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Evidence of referees' national favouritism in rugby

Listed author(s):
  • Lionel Page


    (Westminster and Cambridge)

  • Katie Page



The present article reports evidence of national favouritism from professional referees in two major sports: Rugby League and Rugby Union. National favouritism can appear when a referee is in charge of a match where one team (and only one) is from his country. For fear of the risk of such favouritism, such situations are avoided in most major sports. In this study we study two specific competitions who depart from this national neutrality" rule: the European Super League in Rugby League (and its second tier competition) and the Super 14 in Rugby Union. In both cases we find strong evidence that referees favour teams from their own nationality, in a way which has a large influence on match results. For these two major competitions, the Super League and the Super 14, we compare how a team performs in situations where the referee both shares their nationality and in situations where the referee comes from a different nationality. We also analyse referees' decisions within matches (such as penalty and try decisions) in a Rugby League competition, the Championship (second tier below the Super League). In both Rugby League and Rugby Union we find strong evidence of national favouritism.

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Paper provided by National Centre for Econometric Research in its series NCER Working Paper Series with number 62.

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Length: 35 pages
Date of creation: 10 Oct 2010
Handle: RePEc:qut:auncer:2010_09
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