To Investigate How Aggression Affects Performance in Rugby

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To Investigate How Aggression Affects Performance in Rugby

Aggression is the intent to physically, verbally or psychologically harm someone who is motivated is avoid such harm. Baron (1977) defines aggression as the following:

“Any behavior directed at the goal of harming or injuring another being who is motivated to avoid such treatment.”

There are certain types of aggression, some that lie within the rules or laws of the game and others that do not. Hostile or reactive aggression is said to be aggressive acts motivated by anger that have the intent and goal of harming another but also is not with in the rules/laws. An example of this in rugby would be a dangerous tackle above the shoulders/ round the head or neck of the opposition, a spear tackle, were a player is lifted off the ground and dropped head first into the ground also throwing a punch is outside the rules and can result in a sending off or sin bin. Another form of aggression is instrumental aggression, which are aggressive acts that are intended to harm another person with the goal of achieving a goal without suffering. In other words “Gamesmanship”, which can be said to be cheating within the laws or bending them. An example of this would be going into a tackle and hitting your opponent with your shoulder first then wrapping your arms around them. Assertiveness is not entirely a form of aggression but a use of legitimate strategy and force to achieve a prescribed goal within the laws of rugby. An example of this would be an assertive tackle in the beginning of the game in order to intimidate the opponent.

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Figure 1: showing gray vagueness areas of different types of aggression


Through the years many psychologist have introduced theories to how and why aggression is caused. Freud and Lorenz suggested that people, like animals have inherent predisposition to act aggressively.  And Hobbes (1600’s) called humans “homo Lumpus”, or human wolfs, suggesting that aggressive acts of humans mimic those of savage animals. Hobbes also described how people release their built-up aggression through the act of aggression (Catharsis – Psychology: A technique used to relieve tension and anxiety by bringing repressed feelings and fears to consciousness.) This can be ...

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