A Social History of English Rugby Union by Tony Collins

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By Tony Collins

From the parable of William Webb Ellis to the honor of the 2003 global Cup win, this publication explores the social heritage of rugby union in England.

Ever when you consider that Tom Brown’s Schooldays the game has visible itself because the mother or father of conventional English middle-class values. during this interesting new historical past, major rugby historian Tony Collins demonstrates how those values have formed the English video game, from the general public faculties to mass spectator recreation, from strict amateurism to international professionalism.

Based on unheard of entry to the professional files of the Rugby soccer Union, and drawing on a magnificent array of assets from membership mins to non-public memoirs and modern literature, the publication explores in vibrant element the foremost occasions, personalities and avid gamers that experience made English rugby.

From an period of fast development on the finish of the 19th century, throughout the bad losses suffered in the course of the First global battle and the next ‘rush to rugby’ within the public and grammar faculties, and into the classes of disorientation and commercialisation within the Sixties via to the current day, the tale of English rugby union is additionally the tale of the making of contemporary England.

Like all of the absolute best writers on recreation, Tony Collins makes use of recreation as a prism in which to higher comprehend either tradition and society. A ground-breaking paintings of either social heritage and recreation background, A Social historical past of English Rugby Union tells a desirable tale of carrying endeavour, masculine id, imperial ideology, social attention and the character of Englishness.

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Extra resources for A Social History of English Rugby Union

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The white rose powerhouse won the title seven times in the first eight seasons of the championship. Of no consolation to the south was the fact that in the only year that Yorkshire did not prevail, the trophy went to Lancashire. The debate over payments for play came to a head at the 1893 annual general meeting of the union. 14 He argued that having made the game popular among the working class, ‘the RFU at once did [the working-class player] an injustice. These men were constantly called upon to lose their wages in order to play for their 28 THE AMATEUR GAME county or their club and at the same time they were debarred from recompense for the loss of time involved.

33 More famously, few people were prepared to offer a precise definition of ‘gentleman’ – as Philip Mason remarks in his history of the English gentleman, ‘what was meant by this word is not at all easy to explain’. 35 THE AMATEUR GAME Writing shortly after the end of the First World War the rugby journalist Philip Trevor linked amateurism to the ‘public school spirit’ but acknowledged that, ‘of course, we cannot define the term “public school spirit” any more than we can define, by any amount of elaboration, the term “gentleman”.

At least eight were manual workers. Only four players came from the traditional public-school based sides in the south. The captain, Dicky Lockwood, was an unskilled manual labourer from Heckmondwike. In this, the team was a vivid illustration of the way in which rugby had become a sport of the masses. No longer the preserve of the upper middle classes, it was vigorously played and keenly watched by all sections of society, from the doctor at Harlequins to the docker at Hull Kingston Rovers. But it was not to last.

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