Since the turn of the twenty-first century, rugby football in Munster has seen extraordinary growth in terms of popularity and cultural significance. The Munster rugby team in particular has become a hugely important provincial institution through which regional identity has been expressed on the international stage.
This book details the game’s evolution in Munster from its origins in the 1870s through to the dawn of the professional era in the 2000s. Focusing mainly on the game’s two centers of popularity in Limerick and Cork cities, this book will display how contrary to popular myth, rugby football rarely expressed any kind of coherent identity throughout the province. The game was centered on clubs and was highly adaptable to local conditions throughout its history. In addition, the often fractious internal politics of the game within the province, reflecting the game’s contrasting social development in Limerick and Cork, will also be discussed. Drawing on the unpublished records of the game’s provincial and national administrative bodies and a comprehensive survey of the provincial press, this book will show how one sport served multifarious roles in terms of class, culture and politics in Munster.