A Sociological Analysis of the Game of Rugby Kenny Brutus Sociology 101 Professor Durso Finley Tuesday/Thursday Morning Class What is Rugby? Rugby is a free-flowing game that features a combination of strength, speed and strategy to move a ball into an opponents territory. Rugby is a fullcontact sport yet players wear little-or no protective gear. Rugby evolved from football (i.e. soccer) and is often called the “game played in heaven.” + = Objective of the game and player positions Objectives: The objective of rugby is the same as in American Football: to advance the ball into the oppositions end zone, called the try zone. While a player scores a touchdown in American Football when he reaches the end zone, in rugby the player has to touch the ball down in the try zone to be awarded a “try” (which similar to a touchdown in football) Positions: Sociology’s View of Rugby Three Perspectives: Social Conflict Paradigm- This perspective views society as a constant struggle for power and resources. Structural Functional Paradigm- This perspective views society as a machine whose parts must be working together. Symbolic Interaction Paradigm- This perspective views society as the sum of all personal interactions based on the interpretation of meaning. Social Conflict Social Situation - Rugby Ultimate Goal - Winning the game Power Resources: Coaches Players Strategy Communication Coaches… Every athlete wants a good coach who is capable of leading a team to victories. These coaches don’t come easily. Teams are always seeking the best and most experienced coaches. When this happens there becomes competition for who gets the best coach. This competition is usually among several teams. Teams want good coaches because they want to win and that is what a good coach will provide. As a team, in order to win over the best coaches you must have a lot to offer. Teams that offer a lot of money make the job more appealing therefore having an advantage. Good coaches can be found through rugby networking, or through rugby sports clubs. This is all done in order to gain a strong leadership and to build strong, knowledgeable players. Players… Good teams require strong players. Usually strong players are already on the best teams. Coaches compete with other coaches in order to build the strongest teams and to find the best players. They do this because they want to win and build their reputations. In order to find the best players coaches usually scout players in high school or in college. In the professional level they attend combines. Strong players are the key to a winning team. This is why there is so much competition for them. Conflict Paradigm and Social Change For a coach, at the end of all the competition, it usually comes down to which team is offering more money and better job opportunity. Also, If a coach is good enough, he gets options which allow him to choose who he wants to coach. As for players, teams who offer the better salary will usually win. However, for players this is not the only incentive. Players also want to be on the best team and play for the best coaches. Players want to play for the most experienced and most knowledgeable teams/coaches. Structural Functional Social Situation – Rugby Match Structures: Coaches Players Fans Referees Fans Fans usually consist of family, friends, and die hard rugby fans. There job is to cheer and show there support to the team by attending the games. The fans liven up the game and bring excitement. A fan’s job is to encourage the players to do their best. Friends and family are the best types of fans for a player. Fans can also inspire the coach to motivate him to continue doing good work. Fans Cont… Manifest – (Intended) : A fan’s main goal is to encourage and cheer for the team they support. Latent – (Side-effects): Oftentimes, depending on whose favor the game is in, fans can become rowdy, stressed, or even bored. Dysfunctions – (Problems): Rarely, and usually out of frustration, fans can become violent when things aren't going as expected. Sometimes fans may also swap words back and forth to the opposing team’s fans, causing a distraction to the players. Referees A referee’s job is to follow the game and make sure everything goes flowingly. A referee is supposed to make sure that all rules are laid down for both captains to understand. Also, he must check individuals’ gear. For example, certain cleats are not allowed. Also he checks for shin guards because they are illegal as well. A referee has to manage behaviors of fans on sideline as well as coaches and players. Also his job requires him to keep track of statistics of the game and manage time for the coaches. The referee is who both players and coaches will refer to if they have any questions. Referees cont… Manifest – A ref will watch a game equally to make sure that both sides are being penalized or rewarded properly. Latent – Sometimes refs can make mistakes. There will be times where they miss an illegal play or an off sides opponent. Dysfunctions – Referees can also sometimes favor a team, which would result in them purposely not seeing certain actions. Coaches may also pay refs to play the game in their favor. Functional Paradigm and Society A Rugby game is a new experience for many people. It brings people together for fun and entertainment. Everyone that goes has a common interest which brings them together to interact with one another. Rugby also provides a way for people to maintain a healthy lifestyle, aside from the injuries. Functional Paradigm and Social Change Both the referee and fans learn how to adapt to a Rugby match. The fans realize that rugby players can be a unique bunch. Also they become used to some of the rituals and the roughness of the sport and become familiar with rugby lingo. Referees learn to adapt to the different personalities they come across when officiating a rugby match. They adapt to different skill types. Symbolic Interaction Paradigm Social Situation – Rugby Match Symbols: Uniforms Ball Field Beer Uniforms… When an athlete wears a uniform for the first time, it gives him a feeling of pride. The uniform symbolizes unity. It shows that all players belong to the same team. Wearing the same jersey makes players feel like brothers. They work together as one. Players on club teams take turns washing the jerseys between games, thereby increasing the players’ sense of commitment to the team. Beer Rugby players are known for their love of beer. Beer for years has symbolized camaraderie. Beer has been a part of rugby since day one. All rugby players would agree. Beer allows for men to come together after gruesome battle on the field. They drink together and talk about the love of their sport. Over the years the only thing that has changed is drinking in public. Instead, after games, teams now host “drink ups” at their local bars/pubs. Application Improving the Game of Rugby through Sociology Maximizing power resources. Improving how the parts work together Increasing the meaning of personal interactions Social Conflict - Maximizing power resources. Coaching: One way a coach could maximize his power resources would be to join different coach networking groups. This would allow for a coach to be updated with the latest information as well as have reliable resources to strengthen his coaching methods. Also coaches can attend leadership workshop which would teach them strong leadership skills when working with their teams. Having good leadership skills come hand in hand with having a good team. Players: When it comes to recruiting, players can also search for other members to join the team. Depending on the level of rugby, players can make flyers to catch the interest of potential players. Another way to maximize the value of players is to have them educate the general public about rugby. Most people don’t know much about the sport of rugby. Further more, do they even know that the sport is played around them? Informing the public would allow for more opportunities to build future rugby players. Structural Functional – Improving how the parts work together Fans : There are also some ways that rugby can be structurally improved specifically at the amateur level. Teams can promote spirit wear to fans to engage them further in the sport. For example team shirts and horns would improve a rugby match structurally. Fans will also be encouraged to spread the word about rugby. In order to make them more motivated the rugby organization can offer incentives so that the fans are more willing to help. Referees : For the referee having to keep all the stats logged in his head can become difficult so making a hand held device where he is able to input the stats may be a more efficient solution for the referee. Another beneficial thing to help improve a referees performance could be psychology seminars to handle the different personalities they may come across during a rugby game. Symbolic Interaction – Enhancing the meaning of personal interactions Uniforms : Uniforms have a very strong meaning in rugby it symbolizes unity. Another way to improve the personal interactions could be by using patches to acknowledge ones success or veterans patches. This can make the meaning of the uniforms much stronger and help bring the players together better than before. Also alternate home and away jerseys could symbolize for example being at an away game showing they may be away but they are still fighting for their home. Beer : Beer has been a rugby rituals for years and more years to come The beer after and during games has been a great method for interaction among teams especially after the game. Some improved methods for the beer ritual could be for teams to have an official team anthem as they present the beer. This could really stir up better interaction among the teams. Also team beer cups or mugs could be a cool addition it could even start a trend among the rugby nation. Conclusion Rugby has been a well known sport throughout the world. Rugby has made it place in society and will continue to do so. Also, being known for its high level of competition and camaraderie, rugby is growing rapidly in this world. With rugby growing so quickly there can be some improvements. Maximizing their power resources for example by coaches expanding their networking and players educating the public will help maximize and build. Also by improving the small parts that will make rugby function more flowingly will help with the growth of rugby. Incorporating the fans and enhancing technology for the referees will make for a smooth growth in rugby. Finally, the enhancing the meaning of personal interaction will finalize the needed improvements. Some way of doing this will be by making the beer celebrations exciting for all to remember and making patches for jerseys and jackets for all to remember the good time they had.