Lecture on History of Rugby League next week

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Auckland, December 2, 2017

Historian Ryan Bodman will deliver a lecture on ‘Rugby League- The Democratic Game’ on Thursday, December 7, 2017 at the Otahuhu Public Library located at 28 Mason Avenue, Otahuhu.

The event, on in the ‘Toia Talks (Our People, Our Stories) Series,’ will commence with meet and greet with light refreshments and the Lecture will be at 7 pm.
The Lecture will be followed by a Question and Answer Session.

Otahuhu described as ‘The Heartland of Rugby League’ in New Zealand.

Recipient of the 2017 ‘Turnbull Library Research Grant,’ Mr Bodman will discuss the social and cultural history of rugby league in New Zealand’s working-class communities.

Sustained antagonism

“In New Zealand, as elsewhere, the game of Rugby League survived in the face of sustained antagonism from Rugby Union administrators and their allies,” Mr Bodman said.

Speaking to the English context, Phil Melling and Tony Collins have suggested that a key strength in league’s resistance was the game’s ability to draw in others who also felt a sense of alienation from the established order.

“This assessment is evident in New Zealand, where a number of marginalised communities developed close associations with rugby league throughout the 1920s and 1930s,” Mr Bodman said.

Cultural Pride

“At this time, working-class communities, Kiingitanga Maori and Irish Catholics embraced rugby league as an expression of community identity, cultural pride and collective defiance against rugby union’s ongoing hostility. As a result, some observers began to describe league as ‘A Democratic Game’” he said.

Otahuhu, home to the ‘Otahuhu Leopards’ and the ‘Otahuhu Rovers,’ has featured in the media recently with Rugby League World Cup coverage. It also received press attention during the 2011 Rugby World Cup as scores of Pacific Island team fans took to its streets to celebrate.


Photo Caption:

  1. Ryan Bodman
  2. Marist League Team early 1950s (West Coast Recollect)
  3. Pumphouse for extended mine in background 1912-1920

(Pictures Supplied)


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