Date of Award

January 2018

Degree Type

Open Access Thesis

Document Type

Master Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Justice Studies

First Advisor

Victoria E. Collins

Department Affiliation

Justice Studies

Second Advisor

Travis Linnemann

Department Affiliation

Justice Studies

Third Advisor

Judah Schept

Department Affiliation

Justice Studies


The passing of Title IX has allowed women of all ages to begin engaging with contact sports in the United States. Although growing, women's participation in contact sports remains adolescent in comparison to men's. The elements of physicality, masculinity, and gendered expression often associated with rough sports may affect women's willingness to play them as well as others' perceptions of the women who play them. Rugby, a high-intensity contact sport played by both men and women throughout the world, is one of the fastest growing sports in the U.S. Rugby offers a unique opportunity for women to play against other women under the exact same rules as men's leagues. Studies have been completed on the ways that femininity, identity, and sexuality operate in the context of rugby in numerous countries around the world, but have yet to be performed in the U.S. Drawing on literature from the sociology of sport and sports criminology, the purpose of this study is to understand why women in the U.S. choose to play rugby, how rugby has impacted women's experiences with sexuality, gender, and identity, and what rugby provides women as one of the only available full contact sports. Utilizing an online anonymous survey instrument, 350 responses were collected for analysis.