The economic literature on professional sports leagues suggests supporters’
utility depends on uncertainty of outcome (competitive balance) and the quality of
play. Unlike soccer, where the Champions League is dominated by teams from larger
countries, our analysis indicates that the ERC exhibits high degrees of both dynamic
and inter-league competitive balance. Using data from 1,096 matches played over 17
seasons, we analyse match attendances in the pool stages of the European Rugby Cup
(ERC), a competition that involves teams from the three main European rugby
leagues. The results indicate that the quality of the home team is the main determinant
of match attendances, although a strong visiting team also raises attendances.
Medium-term (seasonal) uncertainty, which has received less attention in the
literature, appears far more important than short-run (match) uncertainty. Measures
designed to make matches more attractive, e.g. bonus points for high scoring, appear
to have had litt...