Re-Evaluating the Role of Attendance on Home Advantage: Evidence From an International Rugby Tournament

Peter Dawson
Paul Downward
Vincent Hogan
and Patrick Massey

Home advantage has been documented in many sports. It is hypothesized that higher attendance, likely dominated by home-team supporters, can be a source of this advantage, either through influence on match officials or by spurring the home team to greater efforts relative to the away team. We examine this latter hypothesis using a dataset of 1,030 matches over eight seasons, 2012/2013 to 2019/2020, of the Pro14, one of the three major European rugby union leagues. Our results initially display strong evidence of home advantage. However, once we control for team quality, home advantage is significantly reduced. Further, our results also indicate that home advantage is not explained by the impact of attendances on team performance (effort).

JEL Codes: D91, L83, Z20