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In this article I examine the role and working practice of rugby union club doctors in England. While medicine is widely perceived to be one of the most powerful professions in Western societies, sociologists of sport have argued that sport clinicians often wield relatively limited power over their athlete-patients. In this article I therefore attempt to shed further light on the “peculiar” character of sports medicine. Using data drawn from interviews and questionnaires, I argue that this phenomenon can be understood only by looking at the structure of the sports medicine profession, the specificities of the rugby club as a workplace setting, and the relationships club doctors have with clients (coaches and athletes) and other health care providers (physiotherapists).
Malcolm is with the School of Sport and Exercise Sciences, Loughborough University, Loughborough, UK.