“It’s a long way to the Super League”: the lived experiences of southern hemisphere professional rugby league migrants in the United Kingdom

Evans, Adam and Stead, David (2012) “It’s a long way to the Super League”: the lived experiences of southern hemisphere professional rugby league migrants in the United Kingdom. In: Third International Conference on Sport and Society, 22nd - 25th July 2012, University of Cambridge.

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“It’s a long way to the Super League”: the lived experiences of southern Hemisphere professional rugby league migrants in the United Kingdom
Paper presented to the 3rd International Congress on Sport and Society, University of Cambridge, 25.07.2012
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Abstract

This research investigated the lived experiences of professional Oceanian sports migrants employed in rugby league in the United Kingdom (UK), and the impact migration had upon player identities. The migrant pathway from Oceania to the UK is well established in rugby. However, the experiences of rugby league players have not previously been studied. Moreover, rugby league is a sport in which debate concerning the merits of employing labour migrants from Oceania is prevalent and ongoing due to the success of international antipodean teams, particularly Australia. The study was guided by figurational principles in order to gain insight into sports labour migration in rugby league as part of wider globalisation processes. The study utilised data obtained from 14 semi-structured interviews and 26 questionnaires completed by professional rugby league players in the premier European club competition, the ‘Superleague.’ Specific issues facing this group of migrant professionals were investigated. Motivations to migrate were intensely personal and multi-faceted. Although finance featured, personal development and sporting goals were often paramount. However, player control career choices were often limited, associated with poor preparation. This resulted in considerable personal and cultural challenges, particularly among players without European ancestry. The study also highlighted how the identities of ethnic subgroups within a more general group of labour migrants can emerge and be strengthened as a result of migration. Furthermore, the study highlighted how the issues presented by migrating in sport can affect some groups of migrants in an entirely unique manner. In particular, Pacific Islanders, Maoris and Papua New Guineans found the cultural adaptation required of a move to England challenging. These differences between subgroups are considered in light of previous work on a labour migrant typology presented by Stead and Maguire (2000) which has implications for future research into the global sports migration phenomena.

Item Type:Conference or Workshop Item (Presentation)
Additional Information:This research investigated the lived experiences of professional Oceanian sports migrants employed in rugby league in the United Kingdom (UK), and the impact migration had upon player identities. The migrant pathway from Oceania to the UK is well established in rugby. However, the experiences of rugby league players have not previously been studied. Moreover, rugby league is a sport in which debate concerning the merits of employing labour migrants from Oceania is prevalent and ongoing due to the success of international antipodean teams, particularly Australia. The study was guided by figurational principles in order to gain insight into sports labour migration in rugby league as part of wider globalisation processes. The study utilised data obtained from 14 semi-structured interviews and 26 questionnaires completed by professional rugby league players in the premier European club competition, the ‘Superleague.’ Specific issues facing this group of migrant professionals were investigated. Motivations to migrate were intensely personal and multi-faceted. Although finance featured, personal development and sporting goals were often paramount. However, player control career choices were often limited, associated with poor preparation. This resulted in considerable personal and cultural challenges, particularly among players without European ancestry. The study also highlighted how the identities of ethnic subgroups within a more general group of labour migrants can emerge and be strengthened as a result of migration. Furthermore, the study highlighted how the issues presented by migrating in sport can affect some groups of migrants in an entirely unique manner. In particular, Pacific Islanders, Maoris and Papua New Guineans found the cultural adaptation required of a move to England challenging. These differences between subgroups are considered in light of previous work on a labour migrant typology presented by Stead and Maguire (2000) which has implications for future research into the global sports migration phenomena.
Keywords:Labour Migration, Figurations, Globalisation, Identity, Rugby League
Subjects:C Biological Sciences > C600 Sports Science
Divisions:College of Social Science > School of Sport and Exercise Science
ID Code:6011
Deposited By: Adam Evans
Deposited On:25 Jul 2012 21:28
Last Modified:13 Mar 2013 09:12

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