A CRITICAL EXPLORATION OF THE POTENTIAL FOR SENIOR WOMEN’S RUGBY TO DEVELOP IN WALES: A STUDY OF WRU CLUBS
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Rugby union is firmly embedded within Welsh culture and lies at the heart of Welsh communities. It is strongly associated with masculinity, and is a sport powered and controlled by men. Because of this male bias, women who want to play rugby face a constant battle for recognition. This study aimed to explore the factors affecting the development of senior women‟s club rugby in Wales. An interpretative qualitative study was undertaken involving three phases. Phase 1 was a desk study and was the research gathering stage, allowing an investigation into WRU clubs. Phase 2 involved semi-structured interviews with WRU development officers, and phase 3 involved semi-structured interviews with club committee members. Thematic analysis identified five emergent themes which affect the development of women‟s rugby in Wales. These were: 1) Difficulties attracting and retaining players; 2) Cultural attitudes towards women's rugby; 3) Clubs are reactive not proactive; 4) Contradictory views of the input from the WRU; and, 5) The future of women's rugby is uncertain. This study suggests that women‟s rugby is struggling to develop in Wales due to the stereotyping of women who play rugby in relation to sexuality and masculinity. Furthermore, there are rugby clubs in certain areas of Wales run by committees who still hold traditional views of women, and who do not think that women should play rugby. This attitude, along with a lack of exposure given to women‟s club rugby and no clear strategy for its development, is affecting its growth and creating an uncertain future. Future research is warranted to develop the link between rugby clubs and the WRU in order to develop a specific strategy for the development of women‟s club rugby across Wales, as well as further research to address the role that culture and power plays within a club setting.
- Masters Degrees (Sport) 
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