|dc.description.abstract||This thesis is the first oral history study of English rugby union. Through personally conducted interviews, it focuses on the experiences of men who played rugby union for England in the post-war, amateur era, and considers what they can tell us about both the sport and the society of which it was a part.
The period it covers begins with the end of the Second World War, in 1945, and ends when rugby union ceased to be an amateur sport, in 1995. These fifty years were a time of both change and continuity, and it is a primary concern of this thesis to consider the extent of each in both rugby union and in wider society. Through looking at, in particular, English rugby union’s links with education, its relationship with work in a period in which its players were amateur, and its place on the spectrum of class, this study demonstrates, above all, the durability of rugby union’s social core, even in the midst of outward change to the sport.
In doing so, it makes an important contribution to the historiography of both British sport and post-war Britain more generally, arguing for consideration of social continuity among a field largely dominated by notions of change. It also constitutes a unique study of a particular group of middle-class men, and demonstrates that sport – and oral history – can add much to our understanding of post-war social history.||en