Study Reveals The World’s Best Rugby Stadiums
Which rugby grounds are the best in the world and the most enjoyable to visit? For many, it’s not just about the structure and size of the ground in question; it’s the atmosphere a stadium generates, the history and tradition, its location, how affordable it is, and more.
To find the rugby stadiums fans are most - and least - satisfied with, LiveRugbyTickets analysed more than 15,000 TripAdvisor reviews for 40 different grounds*. We created our very own index looking into the following four variables across these reviews and gave each a score out of 10:
From this, we gave each stadium an overall fan satisfaction score out of 10 before ranking them to identify the best (and worst) rugby stadiums around the world.
The Best Rugby Stadiums
Snatching first place is Recreation Ground in Bath, in southwest England, with an impressive overall score of 9.5 out of 10. The Rec is home to the Bath Rugby team, as well as being used for other sports such as cricket, hockey, and croquet. This ground is rated nine out of 10 for atmosphere, cleanliness, and affordability, however, the stadium’s food lets it down with a score of 8.9 out of 10.
Following close behind in second place, with a fan satisfaction score of nine out of 10, is Welford Road in Leicester, England. According to our analysis of the stadium’s TripAdvisor reviews, the stadium, which has previously hosted Rugby World Cup matches, scored its highest score (9.6) for cleanliness and its lowest (8.5) for the atmosphere.
Taking bronze is Totally Wicked Stadium in St. Helens (Merseyside, England) - belonging to St Helens R.F.C - with a fan satisfaction score of 8.5 out of 10 overall. The grounds, which can seat 18,000 spectators, have been awarded 9.1 out of 10 for cleanliness and affordability, however, the grounds scored low on atmosphere with a score of 7.2 out of 10.
The Welsh stadium of Parc y Scarlets ranks in fourth, with an overall fan satisfaction score of eight out of 10, followed by Sandy Park and Twickenham Stoop with a score of 7.9 out of 10. Whilst Parc y Scarlets received a low rating of 6.4 for the atmosphere, it more than makes up for it in terms of food (9.6). Sandy Park and Twickenham Stoop both have their highest scores in affordability, suggesting most fans are happy with the price of tickets and services at both venues.
Allianz Park and Sixways come in seventh and eighth place, respectively. According to our analysis of TripAdvisor reviews, Allianz Park has higher ratings for atmosphere (9.1 vs 7.9) and food (9.1 vs 8.7); however, the stadium falls short when it comes to cleanliness (5.3 vs. 5.5) and affordability (7.2 vs. 8).
The first entry outside the UK goes to AAMI Park in Australia, ranking as the ninth best rugby stadium worldwide. This venue, also known as the Melbourne Rectangular Stadium, puts on rugby matches, football tournaments and record-breaking concerts. The visitors are happy with how clean and affordable the stadium is, resulting in an average score of 8.3 and 7.9 out of 10 for each variable, respectively. It is also popular on Instagram, with over 29,000 photos of the stadium tagged via the hashtag #aamipark.
Suncorp Stadium, also based in Australia, comes in 13th spot. Out of 1,249 reviews, the highest score awarded is 7.9 out of 10 for cleanliness. The lowest rating (5.5), like many other rugby grounds in the top 15, is for the atmosphere.
Rounding off the world’s top 15 rugby stadiums is Mount Smart Stadium in Auckland, New Zealand. Home to the New Zealand Warriors, this spot has an incredibly high average score of 9.8 out of 10 for the atmosphere - the highest of all grounds studied. However, the stadium received low scores for affordability (2.3) and food (4.3), bringing the overall fan satisfaction score to 6.4 out of 10.
The Worst Rugby Stadiums
Our analysis of TripAdvisor stadium reviews can reveal the world’s worst rugby stadium is Estadio Ciudad de La Plata. The Argentinian stadium was awarded an average score of 0.2 for the atmosphere, cleanliness, and food and 0.6 for affordability, resulting in an overall fan satisfaction score of just 0.3 out of 10.
Trailing close behind is Allianz Riviera in France, with an overall score of 0.6 out of 10. This low score is predominantly down to receiving a score of 0.4 for affordability and food and 1.1 for stadium atmosphere.
Stadium reviews suggest visitors are far from happy with the atmosphere and cleanliness of Italy’s Stadio Olimpico, scoring 0.6 and 0.9 for these areas, respectively. Food at the Italian stadium was markedly better, with a score of 1.48 out of 10 for this variable, thus resulting in the grounds being awarded a fan satisfaction score of one out of 10.
See the full results and index breakdown for over 40 worldwide rugby stadiums here
- Liverugbytickets.co.uk conducted research aimed at identifying the rugby stadiums fans are most – and least – satisfied with. The study involved content analysis of over 15,000 TripAdvisor reviews for 40 different stadiums.
- The sample of stadiums was compiled by consulting an official list of rugby union stadiums by capacity found on Wikipedia.
- Proceeding the collection of user reviews, pre-processing steps including translation, text normalisation and tokenisation were performed for more accurate results and faster computation. Text normalisation is a particularly important process that re-casts words into their canonical form.
- The methods mentioned above are both standard natural language processing techniques employed to improve analytical accuracy.
- Text translation was performed with the use of Google Translate, a python library that uses Google translate under the hood. The VADER sentiment analysis model was used to generate sentiment scores for each review. A customised lexicon was used to account for the semantics of the review sample to increase accuracy.
- While sentiment analysis models are vulnerable to inaccuracies, an inspection of scores given to random samples within the dataset were predominantly accurate. The method was, therefore, considered suitable for this application.
- To identify reviews with a specific context, a list of keywords synonymous with the following factors were used: atmosphere, cleanliness, affordability, and food. These factors were arbitrarily chosen to reflect a good visitor experience.
- The average sentiment scores for reviews containing any of the keywords formerly identified within each context category were calculated.
- The resulting dataset contains the average sentiment score for each context category for each stadium. The final rankings were based on the average percentage rank for each category.