LATENT DRIVERS OF PLAYER RETENTION IN JUNIOR RUGBY
conference contributionposted on 09.08.2021, 01:33 by Harini Dissanayake, Paul Bracewell, Emma Campbell, Holly Trowland, Simon Devoy
To help key stakeholders cultivate an environment that fosters long-term participation in rugby, drivers that encourage young athletes to remain in the sport must be identified and understood. This study investigates the latent drivers of engagement in a junior rugby system for better data informed decisions. This study then demonstrates how combining administrative data with dynamic social datasets objectifies biased perceptions to some degree. Administration-level data was collected each annual season across a three-year period (2017-2019) by the Auckland Rugby Union and analysed to identify the predictors of player retention. Players were categorised according to whether they remained in (or departed from) the sport at the end of each playing season. A multivariate logistic regression model with a stepwise AIC variable selection was employed to identify significant independent predictors of player retention. Squad size, rugby sentiment in the media and deprivation were significant contributors to junior rugby player retention. This demonstrates that player retention is not only driven by weight and peer group participation, which has been the main focus of engaging juniors in rugby in the past, there are other social factors associated with churn.