Heart of Dark(y)ness: Negotiating race and racism in New Zealand rugby: Club rugby players talk rugby
Thesis DisciplineMaori Studies
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Arts
Racism in New Zealand rugby has been a topic of ongoing debate. In 2011 and 2010, for example, there was a mediated discussion about supposed racial quotas (‘darkies’ quota) for The Crusaders and criticism of Pat Lam, the Samoan Coach of the Blues, for the team’s poor performance. This thesis locates such public controversies as part of ‘sports-chatter’, informed by the work of Lynne Star, that is, as talk about rugby by players, fans and media commentators. In particular, the thesis explores the ways in which rugby players (who are also fans and consumers of mediated sports news) engage in sports-chatter as they made sense of the mediated debates above, draw on their own experiences of playing rugby, race, racism and being rugby fans. The strengths and limitations of using mediated debates as a research strategy to facilitate talk are also examined.
The research uses critical analyses of race and sport to explore how male, rugby players in New Zealand drew on and challenged available discourses of race and racism as they responded to the mediated controversies from 2010 and 2011. The conversations about racism in rugby in four focus groups demonstrate the ways in the participants understand, read and experience race and racism, that is, how they read and participate in sports-chatter. A thematic analysis is employed to explore how the participants negotiate what constitutes racism in the mediated debates; how race discourse is reproduced and disrupted in the focus groups; experiences of encountering racial abuse; and challenging racism in rugby. Analysis focuses on the multiple ways that race and racism are made meaningful through the participants’ talk about mediated debates and their own experiences.