Making sense of the everyday women rugby player
This thesis examines the cultural and social significance of women’s rugby. It attempts to make sense of the experience of the everyday women rugby player at a grass roots level and is an area that has received limited attention in sociology. The purpose of this thesis was to document, explore and reflect upon personal stories and experiences of women rugby players by using qualitative research methods. The participants in the research were 12 women rugby players from different rugby clubs. They were arranged in small focus groups that ran over a period of four weeks where personal stories and experiences were shared and critical reflection of the narratives took place. Common themes identified throughout the research process included the current structure and organisation of women’s rugby that still results in women’s rugby being less valued on and off the field. The stories and experiences revealed the fine line that woman rugby players tread as they try to manage the tension of playing to the ideal image of a rugby player on the field and maintaining their femininity after the game. The findings suggest that the pleasures of rugby found in physicality, roughness, drinking, and associated with masculine culture, are equally pleasurable for these women rugby players. These findings provided insights into the lived experiences of the everyday women’s rugby player at a grass root level. They also suggest that the various experiences of women rugby players, both positive and negative, need to be recognised so that women can be better valued as rugby players rather than as women who just play rugby.