Rugby Union - in Culture

In Culture

Thomas Hughes 1857 novel Tom Brown's Schooldays, set at Rugby School, includes a rugby football match, also portrayed in the 1940s film of the same name. James Joyce mentions Irish team Bective Rangers in several of his works, including Ulysses (1922) and Finnegans Wake (1939), while his 1916 semi-autobiographical work A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man has an account of Ireland international James Magee. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, in his 1924 Sherlock Holmes tale The Adventure of the Sussex Vampire, mentions that Dr Watson played rugby for Blackheath.

Henri Rousseau's 1908 work Joueurs de football shows two pairs of rugby players competing. Other French artists to have represented the sport in their works include Albert Gleizes' Les Joueurs de football (1912), Robert Delaunay's Football. L'Equipe de Cardiff (1916) and André Lhote's Partie de Rugby (1917). The 1928 Gold Medal for Art at the Antwerp Olympics was won by Luxembourg's Jean Jacoby for his work Rugby.

In film, Ealing Studios' 1949 comedy A Run for Your Money and the 1979 BBC Wales television film Grand Slam both centre on fans attending a match. Films that explore the sport in more detail include independent production Old Scores (1991) and Forever Strong (2008). Invictus (2009), based on John Carlin's book Playing the Enemy, explores the events of the 1995 Rugby World Cup and Nelson Mandela's attempt to use the sport to connect South Africa's people post-apartheid.

In public art and sculpture there are many works dedicated to the sport. There is a 27 ft bronze statue of a rugby line-out by pop artist Gerald Laing at Twickenham and one of rugby administrator Sir Tasker Watkins at the Millennium Stadium. Rugby players to have been honoured with statues include Gareth Edwards in Cardiff and Danie Craven in Stellenbosch.

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