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Rugby: Much More than Just a Game

15.11.2007
The significance of rugby and the national team, the All Blacks, runs deeper in New Zealand than just being a national pastime. According to a paper in New Zealand Geographer – published by Wiley-Blackwell – the sport serves as an ideal platform to build and sustain economic nationalism.

Authors of “Sporting Narratives and Globalization: Making Links between the All Black tours of 1905 and 2005”, Nicolas Lewis and Gordon Winder, compared the tour of Great Britain and Ireland in 2005 with the formative 1905 tour – to show that rugby is as much an economic and political game as it is a sporting spectacle.

Many actors – from players to the media, politicians and multinational corporations – seek to benefit from the globalization of rugby. There are features of the 2005 Tour that echo some of the 1905 tour, which was just as commercialized in many ways.

“Despite being a century apart, both All Black rugby tours were similarly effective in fostering particular national identities and presenting opportunities to generate economic value”, said Dr. Lewis.

The globalization of the sport has been understood and organized in many new ways between 1905 and 2005, hence enabling the different actors to more thoroughly exploit its capacity to produce economic and social values.

Dr. Lewis adds that both tours were related to projects of national development in which cultural products feature highly. He observes that “these continuities highlight just how important it is to direct attention to the impacts that rugby has on identity, economics and politics as well as our weekly entertainment.”

*This paper was originally written as the opening address to an international conference of economic geographers held in Auckland.

Alina Boey | alfa
Further information:
http://www.blackwellpublishing.com/press/pressitem.asp?ref=1510

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