Ballycross RFC: Sectarianism, masculinity and racism in a Northern Irish rugby club
Kavanagh, T. R. (2019). Ballycross RFC: Sectarianism, masculinity and racism in a Northern Irish rugby club (Thesis, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)). The University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/12419
Permanent Research Commons link: https://hdl.handle.net/10289/12419
This thesis is a study of Ballycross RFC, a rugby club in Northern Ireland. With a history of violent conflict and a society that remains largely segregated by religion, politics, education and housing, Northern Ireland provided a dynamic and complex context to this season-long ethnography. As a British sport, rugby has traditionally been a Protestant domain and the Catholic minority population at the club were made very aware of this. Through the use of banter, sectarian statements that sought to maintain the status quo were justified with disclaimers of humour. A male-only environment, the rugby club provided members of Ballycross RFC with multiple discourses of masculinity. Problematic performances were frequent, but there was also evidence of more positive masculine identities. As an all-white club in a country with little ethnic diversity, I explore how discourses of whiteness function to highlight and ‘other’ those from different ethnic groups, and simultaneously strengthen in-group bonds. Playing, training and socialising as a full member of the club, I utilised participant observation, focus groups and semi-structured interviews to understand the experiences of Ballycross RFC members. Through the use of a novella, I attempt to represent my experiences at Ballycross RFC and the complex, fluid, and at times contradictory issues of politics and identity in a Northern Irish rugby club.
The University of Waikato
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