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Ken Muir, Eric Anderson, Keith D. Parry, and David Letts

Rugby has traditionally existed as a leading definer of masculinity in British culture, which has included overt homophobia. However, cultural attitudes toward homosexuality have improved rapidly in the 21st century. To assess the impact of wider societal change on gay rugby teams, we employed a multiple methods investigation across five gay rugby teams in England. Results show that, whereas athletes once played for these teams to escape homophobia in broader rugby culture, this is no longer true. Affiliation with gay clubs is now primarily for social purposes, and gay rugby clubs now protect the physical safety of gay men from being less prepared to play the game, whereas before it was safety from homophobia. This research shows that gay rugby clubs have undergone an organizational shift in response to the increased social acceptance of sexual minorities.