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Sport & Exercise Monthly Seminar: “Representations of Rugby Union in the Professional Era” with Dr. Marcus Free

June 7, 2017 @ 1:00 pm - 3:00 pm


June 7, 2017
1:00 pm - 3:00 pm


Seminar Room GO10, Ground Floor, Hardiman Research Building


Sean Crosson

Sport & Exercise Research Group

Monthly Research Seminar, Wednesday June 7, 1pm, Moore Institute


‘From there to here’: Narratives of Transition, Migration and National Identity in Irish Media Representations of Rugby Union in the Professional Era

Dr. Marcus Free (Mary Immaculate College, University of Limerick)



Irish media representation of rugby union in the post-1995 professional era has become a vehicle for the rehearsal of fantasies and anxieties concerning national identity in the context of the Republic of Ireland as a neoliberal state.  Irish rugby’s reorganisation and competitive successes have facilitated comforting images and discourses of centralised management, national cohesion and continuity while successive Irish governments’ neoliberal policies have focused on deregulation, facilitating foreign direct investment and reduced social services spending.  Representations of advancements in rugby management and coaching intersected with pervasive managerialist discourses in Irish media and politics during and following the 2008 collapse of the Celtic Tiger boom, but with a heavy stress on serving the ‘national interest’. Relatedly, the targeted import of foreign players and coaches is often depicted as reflective of Irish rugby management’s successful negotiation of the neoliberal environment of contemporary European and world rugby. However, the paper focuses on how recent concerns regarding the potential hindrance of ‘native’ player/coach development and the threat of economically driven out-migration evince anxieties concerning Irish rugby’s fragile economy and cultural identity that interconnect with broader concerns regarding Ireland’s enduring economic vulnerability following the 2008 crisis.


Marcus Free is a lecturer in Media and Communication Studies at Mary Immaculate College, University of Limerick. He has taught previously at the Universities of Sunderland and Wolverhampton. His current research interests are in the fields of sport as lived culture, the cultural politics of the representation of sport in film and popular media, the psychodynamics of fans’ emotional and cultural investment in sport and sport media, and memories of media and cultural consumption in the construction of autobiographical narrative. He is co-author (with John Hughson and David Inglis) of The Uses of Sport: a Critical Study (Routledge, 2005), and has published many international journal articles and chapters in scholarly collections on constructions of gender, race and national identity in sport, sport fandom and sport media. He also published research on Irish migration, gender and national identity in contemporary film and television drama.