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Rugby union ‘in decline’ in Australia

Rugby union ‘in decline’ in Australia
October 13, 2009

Rugby union is suffering from decreased attendances, television ratings and general interest in the Australian sports market, according to market research commissioned by the Australian Rugby Union.

The research, tracking the game's 'brand health' between March and June this year, showed that Test match crowds have fallen from 617,555 in 2006 to 386,287 in 2009, while attendances at Super 14 matches have dropped from 115,317 to 75,393 in the same period.

It is believed the sport is losing out to Australian rules, rugby league, cricket and football in the country's saturated sports market.

"Rugby's brand equity is diluted by both soccer and cricket with no one attribute being owned by rugby," the report said.

"Bluntly put, consumers are not passionate about rugby. They favour AFL and NRL, which tend to be more tribal. Disconcertingly, even our passionates are turning away.

"So overall, rugby has the poorest health, but the main areas of disadvantage are in passion and salience (advertising recall) versus other sports."

The report also said that awareness of rugby union advertising had declined 13% among sports enthusiasts over the past three years and participation dropped 2% from 193,382 in 2006 to 183,810 in 2008.

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