There is a 40.7% average increase in domestic violence and 71.8% increase in non-domestic assaults across New South Wales on State of Origin game days, research released today by the Centre for Alcohol Policy Research (CAPR) at La Trobe University found.
“In the 12-hour window from 6pm to 6am on State of Origin game night, women and children in NSW are almost 40% more likely to become victims of domestic violence," the centre's deputy director Dr Michael Livingston said.
“When we compare those findings with Victoria, a state with less interest in rugby league, the data reveals no statistically significant increase in violent assaults on the dates in question."
The analysis was based on NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research (BOCSAR) assault figures in NSW on Wednesday nights (between 6pm Wednesday to 6am Thursday) for the weeks around State of Origin games spanning the six years to 2017.
The dataset included every Wednesday from two weeks prior to the first game of each series to two weeks after the final game (11 weeks per year).
On Wednesday nights without games the average number of domestic assaults was 27.5 but on Origin game nights it surged to an average of 38.3 domestic assaults. For non-domestic assaults it was even higher: 24.5 on an ordinary Wednesday and 41.9 on game night.
Data from Victoria was included as a control measure, given the substantially lower interest in rugby league in that state.
“It’s crystal clear that the State of Origin fixtures are leading to a surge in domestic violence," Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education (FARE) chief executive Michael Thorn said.
He said an increase in domestic violence associated with a sporting fixture is not new, pointing to the increase in domestic violence experienced in England during the 2010 World Cup.
“The drivers of domestic violence are complex and many, however, the disturbing findings released today suggest the State of Origin’s particular celebration of heavy drinking, masculinity, tribalism, and the toxic level of aggressive alcohol promotion have collided in such a way as to encourage drinking to excess and domestic violence," he said.
BuzzFeed News has contacted New South Wales Rugby League for comment.
The National Sexual Assault, Family & Domestic Violence Counselling Line – 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732) – is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week for any Australian who has experienced, or is at risk of, family and domestic violence and/or sexual assault.