New teams, old enemies? A study of social identification in Welsh rugby supporters

David Shearer, Gareth Roderique-Davies, Peter Mayer, Ross Hall, R Thomson, G Hall

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study examines the processes involved in social identification in self-selecting groups. Rugby supporters were questioned about their allegiance to their teams and their rivalries with others. Data was gathered by means of a questionnaire which encompassed both open and closed questions relating to perceptions of own team and rival teams. Samples were taken in the final year of professional club rugby in Wales and during the first three years of the new regional structure. Data from the clubs revealed a pattern of in-group homogeneity and between group differentiation based on implicit hierarchy of status rather than recent results or contemporary success. These rivalries were largely dislocated during the process of regionalization with supporters increasingly accepting of success amongst all Welsh regions. Supporters also shifted their primary loyalty to the super-ordinate category of 'Wales' post the regional reorganization. The findings suggest that the removal of traditional top-flight rivalries has led to increased primary support for the national team. Hence, regionalization could be viewed as a triumph over parochialism. In another context, this could be viewed as a loss of an important element of local identification.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)187 - 206
Number of pages19
JournalContemporary Wales
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2008


  • welsh rugby supporters


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