Gorden Tallis, a Queensland Maroon legend, caused quite a stir prior to State of Origin II by suggesting on national television that the Maroons have a bigger home field advantage because Queensland fans are more passionate. Blues supporters simply were not enthusiastic enough, he said.
A statistical analysis of State of Origin results supports Tallis' claim, according to Professor Charles Areni at the University of Sydney Business School, who analysed wins and losses since the series began in 1980.
The Maroons won 29 matches, lost 17 and drew 1 in matches played in Lang Park/Suncorp Stadium, which indicates a big home field advantage. Statistical tests ruled out the possibility that this winning record was due simply to good luck.
By contrast, the Blues won 21, lost 16 and drew 1 in matches played in NSW. Although this is a winning percentage, it is the statistical equivalent to flipping a coin to determine the outcome of each match.
The same basic conclusion held when Professor Areni examined point spreads. In Queenland the average point spread is 4.11 in favour of the Maroons, once again too big to be due to good fortune. But in NSW the average point spread is 2.68 in favour of the Blues - a positive number - but one that could be due to chance.
The data simply do not indicate a home field advantage for the Blues, who have performed just as well on neutral grounds, with a record of 4-3 and an average margin of victory of 1.86 - numbers very similar to their performances in NSW.
When asked for a prediction of State of Origin III, Professor Areni, an ardent supporter of the Blues, said: "The numbers don't lie. The Maroons by 4."
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