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Focus Group Members Needed

20th April 2004

Cardiff Blues will be hosting a number of fans focus groups in May for the University of Glamorgan Rugby Research Project.

There will be six groups run, each reflecting a different cross section of regional rugby supporter. The groups are as follows

Tuesday May 4th

6.00pm Young supporters (under 13)
6.45pm Adolescents
7.30pm Adult season tickets

Wednesday May 5th

6.00pm Adult occasional attendees
6.45pm Adults who are unable to attend matches
7.30pm Female supporters

The groups will be conducted in the Trophy Room of the Clubhouse at Cardiff Arms Park and will be made up of between 5 and 8 supporters. Places can be booked at or via the ticket office on 029 20302030

Details of the purpose and methods of the groups can be found in the attached press release.

New Research asks –

‘Can fans fall in love with regional rugby?’

The forgotten men and women of Welsh rugby - the fans – are finally to be consulted on how they feel about regional rugby, as part of the ‘Rugby Research Project’ at the University of Glamorgan.

Psychologists at the University want to know how, why and if fans are bonding with their new regions.

“The purpose of this project is to examine the nature of supporter allegiances, boundaries and intergroup rivalries among Welsh rugby supporters.” Said Dr Rob Thomson,

“The implications of the new regions have attracted passionate debate from media to the Welsh Assembly, all of whom have had their say, but this project will examine what all supporters think and whether they can transfer their allegiances from a previous club to a new regional team.”

The study will look at subjects such as whether 100 years of tradition can be broken down; if lifelong fans can change allegiances and how the perception of rival regions affect feelings of allegiance to new teams.

Crucially, it is solely to be the fans’ opinions that will dictate the results and findings.

The results of the study are bound to be of interest to those running the new regions, as they will provide an accurate barometer of the effectiveness of any marketing that has been done.

“We’ll be talking to the supporters, both at games and in focus groups to see how they feel about their new teams. We’ll be asking them if they feel part of what is happening and if they do – why? If not – why not?” added Dr Gareth Davies.

“We will also be examining the factors and reasons that influence which team an individual supports.

“For example, one of the reasons that we belong to groups is to enhance self-esteem through comparing our group’s performance with other groups. As such, one might predict that a supporter would ‘choose’ the most successful team to support, as this would provide the most benefits to self-esteem.”

Despite the importance of this for Welsh identity, there is currently only one empirical study that has examined the nature of Welsh rugby supporters under the previous Premier league structure (also undertaken by the team from the University of Glamorgan).

This study found that supporters had strong allegiances to their club, which are closely linked with inter-club rivalries. Consequently, the most eagerly awaited games are those against traditional rivals and teams they particularly like to see beaten, rather than teams supporters claim to admire.

“Things have changed so dramatically now that this is a really exciting time for regions, supporters and for us as researchers,” said Rob. “What we need though, to really make this work, is for supporters to help us. We’ll be at matches handing out questionnaires and looking for volunteers to join focus groups.

“At the end of the research we will be presenting the findings to the regions, the WRU, the media, the fans and anyone else who is interested! So the message to the supporters is – if you want to get involved and you want to be listened to, please get in touch.”

The focus groups will be conducted for the following types of supporters:

· young supporters (under 13 years of age)

· adolescent supporters

· adult season ticket holders

· adult supporters who attend games intermittently

· adults who regard themselves as supporters but do not attend games

· adults who support Wales but do not support the provincial side

These focus groups will discuss their allegiances and reasons for support, as well as experiences of the merged clubs.

The study will contribute to the understanding of the evolution of allegiances post restructuring, which has practical implications for maximising supporter involvement and identification with a new structure.

The results will also make a wider contribution and give an insight into the process of restructuring and merging social groups.

For more information or to take part in the survey please phone the ‘Rugby Research Project’ on 01443 482563, or email [email protected]