Date of Award
Master of Arts (MA)
The genesis of rugby football is to be found in the unique all-male environment of the nlneteenth century British public schools. The game was initially introduced by masters as an agent of social control - to restrain the usually unruly behaviour of boys. Outside the confines of the public schools (and particularly at university), old Boys formed Rugby clubs in which clusters of cultural characteristics based principally around amateurism and specific non-game features came to be developed into a subculture of rugby players, and although certain changes have taken place, this subculture is still intact today in the United Kingdom.
Rugby, in its embryonic form, was introduced in North America in the mid-nineteenth century by garrison soldiers and British immigrants. For a short while it enjoyed some popularity but the war years took their toll and the sport dwindled. However, it sprang up with renewed vigour in the late 1950's and early 1960's replete with all the cultural features that had come to characterize the British game, but these features had taken on different meanings.
In order to examine the subculture and public image of rugby players, the redevelopment of rugby as an increasingly popular sport in North America and this apparent transformation of meaning of various cultural elements, data were collected during one season of participant-observation with a canadian university rugby team and supplemented with extensive informal observations of and lnterviews with players and members of the subculture in the United Klngdom and North America.
It is hypothesized here that on a continent preoccupied with professlonal sport and a win-at-all-cost philosophy in sport, the amateur game of Rugby Union exists as a type of 'resistance' to the dominant sporting forms in North America (particularly football), and for Britons as a resistance to assimilation.
Young, Kevin Mark, "The Subculture of Rugby Players: A Form of Resistance and Incorporation" (1983). Open Access Dissertations and Theses. Paper 6931.
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