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Sport & Exercise Research Group Seminar Series: Professor Philip Dine “The World Comes to One Country: Migration, Cultures and Professional Rugby in France”
March 1, 2017 @ 2:15 pm - 4:00 pm
French rugby is a sport historically practiced in the ‘wrong’ place, for the ‘wrong’ reasons and in the ‘wrong’ way. Its most abiding social function has been as a marker of frequently belligerent local identities, with investment in the game, both moral and material, being almost always parochial in nature. This was reflected for much of the nominally amateur era by the French tolerance of both institutionalized violence and illicit payments to players. Crucially, this national distinctiveness has also included an authentically creative approach to the game on the pitch and intense scrutiny of its myriad meanings off it. Such debates have traditionally centred on the performances of the national side, but more recently have also highlighted both the commercial prioritization and the competitive attrition of the two club competitions that dominate modern French rugby, namely the Top 14 tournament and the European Champions Cup. In a related development, the increasingly transnational diversity of French teams in the professional era suggests that rugby may finally have joined the country’s other major athletic disciplines in crossing social boundaries in ways not possible in other spheres.