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Rugby's Great Split

Episode 11 of 30

Clare Balding tells a story of lies, expulsions, bigotry and witch-hunts, as a civil war in sport erupted when rugby split in two.

As Clare Balding continues to explore the unique relationship Britain has had with sport, in today's programme she tells a tale of lies, witch hunts, bigotry and the north/south divide.This isn't the story of a battle-torn country, but of a civil-war within a sport with rugby becoming a symbol of class division and splitting in two.
From the home of The Wigan Wanderers, Professor Tony Collins of The International Centre for Sports History and Culture at De Montfort University explains the birth of Ruby League.
It happened in the late 19th century, a clash between those who could afford to be gentlemen amateurs and those who couldn't. This story goes to the heart of how important class was and is in Britain, it illustrates that sport is just as capable of dividing people as uniting them.
It also shows that sport isn't just a leisure activity - it's about who you play with and how you play.
Readers, Brian Bowles, Stuart McLoughlin and Sean Baker
Producer : Sara Conkey.

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15 minutes