A social history of the articulations between rugby union and masculinities within Aotearoa/New Zealand

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Sport is recognised by many critical commentators, particularly those within the sub-discipline of sport sociology, to be one of the prime social institutions for defining and legitimating discourses of masculinities that contribute broadly to male privilege but also gender troubles. In this paper I help illustrate how fruitful sport can be as a subject for sociological research through providing a discursive history of rugby’s articulations with masculinities. I trace the socio-historical links between rugby and masculinities from nineteenth century England to contemporary times in Aotearoa/New Zealand to help understand how a male dominated sport associated with violence, injury and sexism came to be known as “our national sport”. I conclude by making pleas for further empirical research concerning rugby’s contemporary impact on masculine subjectivities and gender relations to be undertaken.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)102-128
Number of pages27
JournalNew Zealand Sociology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2004
Externally publishedYes


  • social history
  • Foucault
  • masculinities
  • gender relations

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