chapter  8
Violence, gamesmanship and the amateur ideal in Victorian middle-class rugby
ByTony Collins
Pages 11

However, the reality of Victorian middle-class sport was rather different from both its self-image and its image as viewed through the somewhat rosy spectacles of later generations. Not only was violence widespread, but it was privately held to be one of sport’s most appealing features. The art of twisting the rules to one’s advantage – ‘gamesmanship’ – was commonplace and outright cheating was often ignored if it was done in the right context. Monetary rewards were regularly paid. Far from playing for pure enjoyment, winning was critical to those who played; and if they could not win many simply stopped playing.