Rugby union and national identity in the British Isles since 1945
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 sources. 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.