Date of Publication


Document Type

Undergraduate Project

Professor's Name

Katharine Burakowski


The purpose of this research was to understand the different factors that affect varying levels of rugby fandom. Rugby is currently very popular worldwide but faces extreme competition in the United States, especially from football. This research is important because it will help marketers and sport managers better understand fan motivation in rugby. This will allow them to better market and grow the sport in the United States to compete with American sports.

A sample of 111 participants from a small private college in New York was surveyed for this study. The survey contained primarily quantitative questions, with one open ended quantitative question to end the survey. Participants were asked about the factors that motivate them to follow sport in general and what factors might lead them to follow rugby if they don’t already. Socialization and excitement of the game were found to be the highest rated motivational factors. It was also found that there was a significant difference in how men rated violence and sport higher than women, implying that rugby may struggle generating a female fanbase because of its physical and violent nature.

In the analysis of the qualitative data one of the most common themes was that American sports fans compare rugby to football which reinforces the heavy competition from football in the United States. Many fans also commented on the physicality of the game, for some it was a turnoff to the sport and to others it made the sport more exciting. Other fans felt that, while expressing some interest in the sport, it was confusing and difficult to follow as well as hard to gain access to. These results show that the biggest challenge to rugby will likely be competition from other sports. As of right now there is no significant outlet for rugby in the US which makes it hard to find for potential fans. American audiences will need greater exposure to the sport in order to develop a better understanding of the game and generate fandom.