Science can’t prove who are the best fans in the Aviva Premiership, but it can be, and has been proven that Gloucester fans are the most passionate in the league among all 12 teams during a season long experiment by Premiership Rugby, with psychological and physiological tests carried out by scientists on fans from all 12 clubs.
The supporters’ heart rates, anxiety levels and hormone release through saliva were all monitored, creating a picture of who are the most passionate fans in the league. Having the ‘best’ fans hasn’t actually helped Gloucester, ranking 8th in the league, falling short of playoff and Heineken Cup qualification finishes.
The scientists graded the fans on loyalty, evaluation, psychology and physiology in an attempt to find the perfect formula to capture the essence of a passionate fan base. The least passionate, by the way? Saracens fans. Third in the league at the moment.
The research was performed by the University of Bath. Their director of research for psychology, Dr. Mark Bronan, had this to say about the experiment - All the tests were formulated and set up to give the best indication of the stresses and emotions fans go through when watching a game of rugby. There’s no doubt that the more passionate you are about a team, the more involved you will be on an emotional level – and this is exactly what this experiment found.
We were surprised by just how passionate some of the fans were. Some of the surges in heart rate and testosterone are the biggest we have seen. Previous research has examined these factors in players – and it’s fascinating to see that fans go through similar psychological and physiological processes as the players on the pitch.
Through the measurements the research declared Leicester’s 30-25 win over Northampton as the most exciting match of the season, while the Gloucester match against Bath, the West country derby, was measured as the loudest.