Sale Sharks fans go through same physical and psychological workout as players, claim scientists

By Tom Reynolds

Sale’s Sam Tuitupou might be famed for his on-field passion – but a scientific study has found that the skipper is more than matched in his psychological will to win by the Sharks faithful.

Scientists have conducted a season-long experiment of all 12 Aviva Premiership rugby clubs’ fans – monitoring heart rates, their anxiety levels and hormone release through saliva during matches.

And while the Sharks’ impressive season on the field leaves having secured Heineken Cup rugby next season they have more than held their own in the stands according to the scientific findings.

In one extreme example, an Exeter Chiefs fan saw his heart rate reach 200 beats per minute – the typical resting heart rate is 60-80 – in the last-gasp 31-26 win over Worcester last month.

And so while Tuitupou and co. seemingly take the brunt of the work-out on the field the notion of a relaxing afternoon out at the rugby for the Sharks fans has been blown out of the water.

“Some of the surges in heart rate and testosterone are the biggest we have seen,” said Dr. Mark Brosnan, director of research for psychology at the University of Bath.

“Previous research has examined these factors in players – and it’s fascinating to see that fans go through similar psychological and physiological processes as the players on the pitch.”

“All the tests were formulated and set up to give the best indication of the stresses and emotions fans go through when watching a game of rugby.

“There’s no doubt that the more passionate you are about a team, the more involved you will be on an emotional level – and this is exactly what this experiment found. We were surprised by just how passionate some of the fans were.”

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