Women Rugby Union Coaches’ Experiences of Formal Coach Education in Ireland and the United Kingdom: A Qualitative Study

in Women in Sport and Physical Activity Journal
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  • 1 Staffordshire University
  • | 2 University of Limerick
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Although the sport of rugby union has expanded globally in both the men’s and women’s formats recently, there remains an under-representation of women coaches across all contexts. Research has focused its analysis on the under-representation of women coaches in a select few sports such as soccer. No extant research has empirically analyzed this under-representation within rugby union. This study addressed this research lacuna on why this under-representation exists from the perspective of 21 women rugby union coaches based within the United Kingdom and Ireland. The specific research objective was to analyze the coaches’ lived experiences of attending formal coach education courses in rugby union. Data were collected through individual semi-structured interviews. Data were analyzed thematically and conceptualized via an abductive logic against LaVoi’s Ecological-Intersectional Model and Pierre Bourdieu’s species of capital. Supportive and positive themes reported how the coach education courses had been delivered in a collegiate and lateral manner. Courses thus acted as settings where greater amounts of cultural and social capital could be acquired from both course tutors and peers. This enabled social networks to be made that were used for continual professional development beyond the courses. Barriers and negative experiences orientated upon the lack of empathy imparted by course tutors on account of men having fulfilled these roles on most occasions. Recommendations on how national governing bodies can improve the experiences of women coaches attending future coach education courses are discussed.

Barrett and Blackett are with the Department of Sport and Exercise, Staffordshire University, Stoke-on-Trent, United Kingdom. Sherwin is with the Department of Physical Education and Sport Sciences, University of Limerick, Limerick, Ireland.

Blackett (alexander.blackett@staffs.ac.uk) is the corresponding author.
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