Why Stormers rugby supporters are statistically the best

by The Editor

FEATURE: That headline got your attention, didn’t it? (Apologies to Tina Turner). Here follows a lighthearted story for a Friday. I have put together all the attendance figures for South Africa’s home matches in this year’s Super 15 rugby competition. From the title you will have already guessed which team boasts the support base that turns out in the largest numbers but, if you’d like all the facts and figures, the best and the worst, here they all are – read on; well, unless you’re a Sharks fan, in which case you should probably be at the stadium.

Why Stormers rugby supporters are statistically the best

By: Gareth van Onselen

29 June 2012

A lighthearted, non-political story for a Friday; that is, assuming rugby isn’t political, which might well be a serious mistake on my part. In fact, I’m already regretting the ‘lighthearted’ reference.

Nevertheless, let me wade in. I look forward to the response.

While researching another story, I put together the attendance figures for all home South African 2012 Super 15 Rugby games, up to and including round 15. With three rounds to go, it’s enough for an almost definitive sample. I used the Wikipedia page on this year’s season to compile the facts, so they are not official figures, but these pages are usually maintained by fanatics and I’m pretty sure they are generally accurate (they are also the only composite set of such statistics I could find).

If anything, they are slightly inflated. SANZAR CEO Greg Peters recently reported that a total of 852 838 South African fans have attended the 32 home matches played to date (an average of 26 651 per match). Wikipedia’s total comes to 914 360 (average 28 574) – the difference perhaps being that Wikipedia relies on stadium announcements and some people might not actually turn up on the day (season ticket holders, for example), in which case the difference would be fairly distributed among the teams. At any rate, this isn’t science, and the broad trends stand.

Here is the long and the short of it:

(To view the table full scale, right click on it and select ‘view image’)

You can read the individual attendance figures for each match below this article.

So, when it comes to attendance, the best South African supporters of the five South African Super 15 teams belong to: the Stormers.

To all you Stormers fans out there, well done – a box ticket with a full buffet for each of you; to all the rest of you – 80 minutes in a bucket seat with a damp sandwich.

At this stage, I admit to supporting the Stormers myself. Now, should you not support the Stormers (?) and this admission leads you to think I might somehow have doctored the stats, please, feel free to double check them – although you should know Stormers supporters don’t do that kind of thing; Bulls supporters on the other hand, well, that’s another story.

Here is a summary of the key facts with three rounds to go:

• On average, 42 729 Stormers supporters go to each home Super 15 match – the highest average not just among South African teams but every team in the Super 15 (i.e. including the New Zealand and Australian teams).
• The Stormers also averaged the most supporters per game out of every team in 2011, with 41 850.
• The Stormers average just over 7 000 more people per game than the Bulls, who average 35 658 in second place; and some 23 700 more than the average number of Cheetah supporters per game, in last place.
• A total of 256 374 Stormers fans have watched their team live; 42 000 more than the second place Bulls supporters, with 213 948.
• On average, DHL Newlands is 82% full per match; Loftus Versfeld, 69% full and the other three stadiums come in at around 40% of their capacity.

Just before leaving you all to marvel at the glory that is the Stormers support base, I suppose I should add a disclaimer, before someone from the Free State threatens me.

Compared to Cape Town, Johannesburg, Pretoria and Durban, Bloemfontein has by far the smallest population, as this approximate breakdown by metro demonstrates:

• Mangaung: 850 000
• Cape Town: 3 500 000
• Johannesburg: 3 890 000
• Tshwane: 2 370 000
• eThekwini 3 500 000

More people equate to more potential supporters and, given the fact Mangaung is so small in comparison, it must be said those Free Staters do put on a good show. Unfortunately I cannot award them first place but, on those facts, I would suggest they are a strong second.

By the same logic, the Lions and the Sharks (and, indeed, the Bulls – if you consider Johannesburg and Tshwane are effectively one city) fair rather badly. Both have populations equal to or greater than Cape Town, but pull in some 18 000 fewer supporters per match.

Then again, I am not accounting for quality and, as everyone knows, if it’s good rugby you are after, well, Newlands is the place to go!

List of individual South African home 2012 Super 15 matches so far


1. Bulls v. Sharks, Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria, Attendance: 48 112
2. Bulls v. Blues, Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria, Attendance: 31 582
3. Bulls v. Reds, Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria, Attendance: 23 541
4. Bulls v. Crusaders, Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria, Attendance: 34 135
5. Bulls v. Brumbies, Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria, Attendance: 26 578
6. Bulls v. Stormers, Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria, Attendance: 50 000


1. Stormers v. Hurricanes, DHL Newlands, Cape Town, Attendance: 36 825
2. Stormers v. Sharks, DHL Newlands, Cape Town, Attendance: 40 702
3. Stormers v. Blues, DHL Newlands, Cape Town, Attendance: 38 041
4. Stormers v. Bulls, DHL Newlands, Cape Town, Attendance: 45 000
5. Stormers v. Cheetahs, DHL Newlands, Cape Town, Attendance: 47 890
6. Stormers v. Waratahs, DHL Newlands, Cape Town, Attendance: 47 916


1. Sharks v. Lions, Mr Price Kings Park, Durban, Attendance: 23 905
2. Sharks v. Reds, Mr Price Kings Park, Durban, Attendance: 21 479
3. Sharks v. Chiefs, Mr Price Kings Park, Durban, Attendance: 26 773
4. Sharks v. Highlanders, Mr Price Kings Park, Durban, Attendance: 18 730
5. Sharks v. Force, Mr Price Kings Park, Durban, Attendance: 22 343
6. Sharks v. Stormers, Mr Price Kings Park, Durban, Attendance: 27 355


1. Lions v. Cheetahs, Coca-Cola Park, Johannesburg, Attendance: 20 245
2. Lions v. Hurricanes, Coca-Cola Park, Johannesburg, Attendance: 15 115
3. Lions v. Stormers, Coca-Cola Park, Johannesburg, Attendance: 30 376
4. Lions v. Crusaders, Coca-Cola Park, Johannesburg, Attendance: 14 677
5. Lions v. Bulls, Coca-Cola Park, Johannesburg, Attendance: 35 375
6. Lions v. Brumbies, Coca-Cola Park, Johannesburg, Attendance: 14 162
7. Lions v. Sharks, Coca-Cola Park, Johannesburg, Attendance: 40 274


1. Cheetahs v. Bulls, Free State Stadium, Bloemfontein, Attendance: 30 242
2. Cheetahs v. Lions, Free State Stadium, Bloemfontein, Attendance: 15 713
3. Cheetahs v. Chiefs, Free State Stadium, Bloemfontein, Attendance: 17 163
4. Cheetahs v. Highlanders, Free State Stadium, Bloemfontein, Attendance: 16 026
5. Cheetahs v. Force, Free State Stadium, Bloemfontein, Attendance: 14 263
6. Cheetahs v. Sharks, Free State Stadium, Bloemfontein, Attendance: 23 835
7. Cheetahs v. Waratahs, Free State Stadium, Bloemfontein, Attendance: 15 987

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