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Rugby World Cup a turnoff for many

Press Release – Auckland University

As much of New Zealand gears up for the Rugby World Cup final, spare a thought for the surprisingly high number of Kiwis who are holding their breath just waiting for the whole thing to be over.Rugby World Cup a turnoff for many

As much of New Zealand gears up for the Rugby World Cup final, spare a thought for the surprisingly high number of Kiwis who are holding their breath just waiting for the whole thing to be over.

Associate Professor Toni Bruce, from the School of Critical Studies in The Faculty of Education, is conducting a survey on people’s experiences of and attitudes towards the Rugby World Cup, based on her similar survey in 2007.

The sports sociologist, who is a rugby fan, says both her 2007 survey results and those collected so far in the 2011 survey reveals a group of New Zealanders, which she calls “The silent majority”, who are not enamoured of the Rugby World Cup.

“These are people who are uninterested in rugby or the Rugby World Cup, including some who are actively resistant to what they see as rugby’s dominance of New Zealand’s cultural life,” she says.

Dr Bruce says that in both the 2007 and 2011 surveys less than half (49 percent) of those surveyed felt that winning the Cup was important to them personally.

Yet those who are not interested do not feel free to express their views, according to Dr Bruce. As a 64-year-old man put it, because the Cup was “shoved down everyone’s throats day after day . . . it gives little or no chance for any opposing opinion to be felt.”

One young woman said she would pretend to be sorry even though she would feel delight if the All Blacks lost. And they were not alone in feeling that the media “hype” left them out in the cold.

In the 2011 survey to date 43 percent have reported making little or no effort to follow the Cup and about 10 percent are actively trying to avoid it.
However the buzz of hosting the Rugby World Cup appears to have converted some previous “rugby haters”, says Dr Bruce.

“While those who have completed the 2011 survey so far seem to see things very similarly to four years ago, they do recognise the added dimension of hosting the event, which it seems has brought more people into the experience,” she says.

Forty-six percent of those surveyed said they were making a lot of effort to watch the games, a percentage that has been increasing over the course of the survey as more people get caught up in the buzz.

One survey recipient noted that: “People who weren’t interested in rugby beforehand are talking about it. It’s impossible to go a day without someone saying something about the World Cup.”

Dr Bruce says her observations back this up; she has spoken with females aged from 12 to 80 who have become interested because of the general “buzz” around the event itself. Before the semi-finals, one self-described “rugby-hater” said she had been caught up in the general excitement to the point that she has watched all of the semi-final games.

The survey also asks the question rugby-loving Kiwis don’t want to think about: how will we feel if we lose the Rugby World Cup final?

Dr Bruce says her research suggests that if the All Blacks do lose to France on Sunday people’s responses will range widely, from despair to delight, just as they did in 2007.

“The most common reactions in 2007 were of shock and disbelief, followed by disappointment, sadness or feeling down.”

According to her survey young men were most likely to express anger and rage, females were more likely to be unconcerned or happy to see the end of the Cup, and older people were more moderate in their reactions than younger people.

“Many seemed to think New Zealanders would look for someone or something to blame. Of those surveyed all believed that some New Zealanders would be truly ’devastated‘ or ’distraught‘ if the All Blacks did not win.”

To take part in the 20-minute survey visit:

So far 164 people have completed the 2011 survey.


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