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Cool Cymru, rugby union and an imagined community

John Harris (School of Exercise, Leisure and Sport, Kent State University, Kent, Ohio, USA)

International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy

ISSN: 0144-333X

Article publication date: 1 May 2007




The purpose of this paper is to critically reflect upon the place of rugby union in contemporary Wales where the game is used as an important tool to promote images of the nation. Using Benedict Anderson's conceptualisation of the nation as an “imagined community” the paper aims to locate and analyse the game within and around discourses of Cool Cymru, a term coined in the late twentieth century to promote images of a new vibrant Wales as popularised through its leading music bands.


A critical sociological approach analyses and problematises notions of Welshness as it relates to the national sport of rugby.


The nation is often (re)presented and conceptualised as a monolithic whole where rugby's assumed centrality is rarely questioned. This essay focuses upon the areas of language, geography and gender to demonstrate the situated limits of these (re)presentations. Rugby union and Cool Cymru are also located alongside devolution and are examined further with specific reference to the postmodern sporting celebrity.


This work highlights an increasing primacy afforded to the capital city of Cardiff within a re‐imagining of the nation and the national game.



Harris, J. (2007), "Cool Cymru, rugby union and an imagined community", International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, Vol. 27 No. 3/4, pp. 151-162.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2007, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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