Survey highlights fans' key role in Rugby League revival

Published 21 February 2001

An extensive survey of Rugby League fans conducted by a leading sport marketing academic from Southern Cross University is playing a significant role in the revival of the fortunes of the National Rugby League (NRL).

Dr Dave Arthur, a lecturer and researcher in SCU's Lismore, northern NSW-based School of Exercise Science and Sport Management, was commissioned by the NRL last June to conduct an in-depth study of the attitudes and practices of the game's many fans. Some 4500 followers of all clubs were included in the sample.

Dr. Arthur's confidential report was presented recently to the NRL's Marketing Director, Mr Mark Wallace, and the code's new advertising agency, Saatchi and Saatchi. The findings formed the basis of the NRL's $5.0 million promotional campaign.

"Modern Australian football is a highly competitive business, both on and off the field," Dr Arthur said, "so many of the findings must remain confidential. However I can say that our results indicated that the code had put its lowest point behind it and will continue to regenerate in the future as long as it continues to focus on the fans, their clubs and the game itself."

He felt League had survived the turbulence of recent times primarily because of the strength of fans' allegiance to their particular club.

Dr Arthur said he was delighted his work was an integral part of the project because "As far as I can tell it was the first time a national governing body such as the NRL has commissioned such extensive and far-reaching research."

"It was a huge vote of confidence in the sport management program at Southern Cross and it shows how well a regional university can respond to the research needs of a high profile metropolitan organisation," he said.

Dr. Arthur will be conducting similar research for the NRL during the 2001 season. With fellow SCU academic Ray Booker and Goonellabah's NRL assistant referee coach, Brian Grant, he continues a close NRL association focused on establishing an objective performance appraisal system for NRL referees, touch judges and video referees.

For further information please contact Dr Dave Arthur (02) 6620 3233 or 0414 422738 Email darthur@scu.edu.au Or Mr Robin Osborne, Media Liaison Officer, Office of the Vice-Chancellor Phone: (02) 6620 3039 Mobile: 0418 431 484 Email: rosborne@scu.edu.au