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The Figures Explained

By BrianC
June 3 2005

The figures explained

The Figures Explained

The figures are taken from the Zurich Premiership site and can be verified against those published there. Every effort has been made to verify their accuracy, but they are subject to error, either my own, or by the administrators of the Zurich site.

These figures are based on all home Zurich games, Premiership, Play-offs, Wild Card and Championship matches. They do not include any Powergen Cup or European competition figures, as there are no reliable sources for these.

My study starts with the 97/98 season, as that is the first for which figures are on record although openly professional rugby began in England the season before this. They are based on the 12 clubs in the Zurich premiership during the 2004/5 season.

Different ways of counting a crowd

It is apparent that different clubs have different methods of counting crowd numbers.

Some clubs only count numbers through the turnstiles, so they always report a below capacity ground even if it has sold out. Others openly admit to counting tickets sold rather than heads attending – and this means that they count 100% of their season ticket holders for every match, whether or not they attend.

Last season in an attempt to address this, and to assist comparison, I produced some weighted results in addition to the exact published figures. In these weighted results I add an extra 15% to the numbers for those clubs who only count bodies through the turnstiles. Whilst I am keeping watch on this I have decided against repeating the exercise this time around. The difference was marginal both last season and the one prior so made little or no difference to the overall picture.

Crowd % Variance 1997/8 - 2004/5

London Irish 183%
Sale 130%
Northampton 82%
Newcastle 58%
Gloucester 57%
Wasps 55%
Harlequins 49%
Bath 43%
Leeds 35%
Leicester 31%
Saracens -18%

For each club surveyed, as well as the raw figures, I’ve attempted to give a range of figures to assist with comparison. As well as comparative percentage growth there is comparative absolute growth. Thus Leicester, who come 11th in terms of percentage growth the period covered, with a 31% crowd increase (Graph above), come a more respectable 7th in absolute growth, having grown their average crowd by 3,931 in this period (Graph below). Neither graph can be said to be more accurate than the other. They are merely different ways of viewing the same figures.

Crowd Number Variance 1997/8 - 2004/5

London Irish 6799
Northampton 5365
Sale 4721
Gloucester 4320
Leicester 3931
Wasps 3228
Bath 3166
Newcastle 2929
Harlequins 2909
Leeds 1431
Saracens -1711

The London Double Header

In terms of compiling the statistics the London Double Header has presented a problem. This was not just to myself but also to the powers that be at Premiership Rugby. They published erroneous figures earlier in the season when they double counted the crowd.

The simple fact is that on the first day of the 04/05 season 51,000 people turned up at Twickenham to watch two games, London Irish against Harlequins and Saracens against Wasps. Whichever way you deal with the figure has downsides. In the end I decided that the fairest thing to do was to divide the crowd in four and allocate 12,750 to each game. As the games were technically 'away' games for Harlequins and Wasps this shows them this season as having twelve home Zurich Premiership games whereas the rest of the teams had eleven. As I have said not perfect but the least of all evils.

Club by club – my spin on the figures

The author is a London Irish supporter whose interest was sparked by the growth he has witnessed at his own club. I have attempted for the purposes of these articles to remain dispassionate and objective. However, there may be times when some bias comes through.

For each club I present the published figures, together with their relative positions. As a London Irish supporter my knowledge of actions taken by the club with regards to promotions, price increases, etc. will enable my interpretation of the figures to be more detailed than that for other clubs. In preparation for this series of articles I have consulted many other clubs’ supporters. Their assistance and insights have proved invaluable.

There is an old saying about lies, dammed lies and statistics. No doubt some of my reading of these figures will be called into question. That I welcome unreservedly. Other than being an active rugby supporter, an amateur statistician and having had the time and inclination to gather these figures I claim no specialist knowledge.

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