This thesis is a sociological investigation into the relationship between sport, culture
and national identity in the British Isles with specific reference to rugby union
during the post-war period. This thesis is concerned with tracing the changing nature
of rugby union and national identity politics over time. The relationship between
rugby union and national identity is examined through a variety of primary and
secondary source materials.
The historical development of this relationship is explored with reference to the
official archives of the four national rugby union associations that represent the
constituent parts of the British Isles. This archival study is cross-referenced with a
longitudinal analysis of reports published in The Times and various other secondary
The contemporary relationship between rugby union and national identity politics is
researched by focusing on both the role of the media and the perceptions of players.
A detailed analysis is undertaken of media re-presentation (by both electronic and
print media) of the Rugby World Cup of 1995 held in South Africa. In addition, the
views of players from all four `home' nations, regarding national identity, are
established through a series of in-depth interviews and questionnaires.
This study establishes the nature of the relationship between rugby union and
national identity politics. It is significant both to the understanding of the role that
rugby union plays in the British Isles but also for the study of sport and national
identity more generally. In addition, the thesis casts light on the relationship
between media sport and national identity politics.
A Doctoral Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the award of Doctor of Philosophy of Loughborough University.