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n South African Journal of Sports Medicine - Travel fatigue and home ground advantage in South African Super 12 rugby teams : original research article
Objectives. Studies have shown the existence of a significant home ground advantage in a range of sports. The aim of this study was to determine whether home performances of the South African teams during the 1996 - 2005 seasons were different before touring to Australia and New Zealand, compared with the home matches played after the 4 - 5-week tour. The question was relevant because this competition places unusual demands on the players. For example, the duration of the tournament is 12 weeks, during which time the South African teams travel across 37.3 ± 2.5 time zones as they play 11 matches. Therefore, any home ground advantage may be negated by travel fatigue.
Outcome measures. The mean points difference was calculated for home fixtures for four South African teams both prior to and following touring during the competitions from 1996 to 2005. Play-off matches were excluded from analysis. Performance was defined as a positive points difference (points difference = points 'for' minus points 'against').
Results. The first finding of the study was that a home ground advantage did indeed exist for all the teams during the tournament (points difference of 6.6 ± 17.4 (N = 664 matches) home vs. -6.8 ± 17.3 points away (N = 656 matches) (p < 0.05). There was no difference between the mean 'home' points difference for all the South African rugby teams either before (1.9 points, N = 96 matches) or after (2.3 points, N = 107 matches) touring overseas in the Super 12 competition.
Conclusion. The findings suggest that in this tournament unsuccessful campaigns on the part of South African teams could not be attributed to travel fatigue.
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