Rugby union

Authored by: Steve Greenfield

Routledge Handbook of Global Sport

Print publication date:  January  2020
Online publication date:  January  2020

Print ISBN: 9781138887237
eBook ISBN: 9781315714264
Adobe ISBN:


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Rugby union is a demanding physical contact sport that prides itself, because of the different demands of skill and strength according to position, on offering the opportunity to participate to a diverse group. This has been articulated and publicized as a game ‘for all shapes and sizes’ and is a clear selling point for schools and clubs. Rugby union has a shared history with Association football and rugby league football and is intrinsically linked to both the public school system and the British Empire. The fierce commitment to amateurism displayed by the governing bodies, most notably the (English) Rugby Football Union, spectacularly collapsed in 1995 with the game moving into a new professional era. This has brought with it greater commercialization and a global presence and more emphasis on diversity and inclusivity. New forms of the game have been developed and promoted across the globe. Contemporaneously, as with other contact sports, rugby union has been forced to confront issues around player safety, most notably in relation to concussive injury. It is sport with widespread research potential that has attracted interest from academics across a variety of fields, such as sports science, history, marketing, business, sociology and law.

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