Sāmoa, Fiji, and Tonga have emerged as strong contenders in international rugby competitions in the last three decades. Meanwhile, rugby has been going through a period of “development” since the creation of the Rugby World Cup in 1987 and the introduction of professionalism in 1995. Here, I present an ethnography of rugby in Sāmoa that focuses on embodiment. Participant observation of practices as well as interviews illuminate how international norms and values are diffused within the sport structure, while a global sporting practice is indigenized and appropriated in the everyday practices of young Samoan men. In Samoan rugby, the emergence of “flair” appears as a category of analysis that naturalizes an embodied characteristic of Samoan village life. By denaturalizing “flair” in Samoan rugby, this article contributes to a critique of this notion, in addition to showing the assemblage that creates rugby in the Islands.


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pp. 369-387
Launched on MUSE
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