Acculturation, Stress and Coping with Cross-Cultural Transition amongst International Rugby Players

by Shogo Tanaka

Institution: University of Otago
Year: 0
Keywords: acculturation; rugby; cross-cultural
Record ID: 1313919
Full text PDF: http://hdl.handle.net/10523/4874


As a result of globalisation, the cross-cultural movement of people, product, and process has dramatically increased over the past few decades. For example, in 2010 there were 325 New Zealand rugby players plying their trade overseas, including 72 players based in Japan (Edwards, 2011). Research has demonstrated that people can experience a number of difficulties during a process of cross-cultural transition that interfere with overall psychological well-being (e.g., Ward & Kennedy, 2001). Along with these cross-cultural difficulties, athletes relocating to a different culture face and cope with unique stressors associated with their athletic lives in an unfamiliar environment (e.g., Campbell & Sonn, 2009). Since cross-cultural transition can have a significant impact on one’s psychological well-being (Berry, 1997), understanding international athletes’ experiences and the factors associated with their adaptation is becoming more important. However, within the field of sport psychology, only limited attention has been devoted to the cross-cultural adaptation experiences of athletes. The purpose of this research project was to investigate the acculturative stressors faced by international rugby players living and playing in a different country and to identify coping strategies employed to deal with these stressors and facilitate positive adaptation. Utilizing Berry’s (1992; 1997) acculturation model, this project also aimed to further develop our understanding of athletes’ acculturation experiences and promote further research and theoretical development in this area of sport psychology. In order to accomplish these goals, three studies were conducted to examine rugby players’ acculturation experiences. The first study involved in-depth qualitative interviews with 10 elite professional New Zealand rugby players competing in the Japan Top League; study two focused on 10 amateur Japanese players competing in New Zealand. In study three, a longitudinal mixed methodology, involving focus group interviews and questionnaires, was employed to examine the acculturation experiences of 15 Japanese adolescent players participating in a 22 week residential rugby programme in New Zealand. Using grounded theory as a methodology, qualitative data sets were analysed inductively and findings were discussed and reported in relation to Berry’s (1997) acculturation framework. Results from the three studies indicated that these three groups of rugby players experienced a number of similar acculturative stressors despite their different backgrounds. Not surprisingly, communication difficulties were identified as the foremost challenge. Also a number of stressors originating from rugby settings were reported in all three studies as the participants spent considerable time and effort on their rugby activities. In addition, these rugby players encountered a variety of general adaptation challenges outside of rugby settings. While many of the stressors appeared to be common across the three groups of players, each group also experienced…