In 1995 rugby union became the last significant international sport to sanction professionalism. To some this represented an undesirable challenge to the traditions of the game. To others the change was inevitable and overdue - an acknowledgment of both the realty of modern sport and the extent to which money had already permeated the game. While there are some commonalities in the response to professional rugby, the contributions to this book, representing almost all of the significant rugby playing countries, reveal much more that was shaped by particular local contexts both within rugby and in terms of its place within the economic, political, class and social structures of the surrounding society. The authors assess the contrasting ways in which rugby administrators at local, regional and national level grappled with the changes that were required and the demands of the corporate backers who funded the transition to professionalism. But the more contentious relationships considered are those involving the many amateur rugby players and committed fans who found that significant community and historical reference points were subtly altered or simply obliterated in the face of new commercial imperatives - and especially new competitions that separated elite players from the grassroots of the game. Some have adapted to the replacement 'product' with relish, others have not. Some have genuine and well articulated grievances against the processes of changes. Others have fallen victim to a nostalgia which appropriates very selective memories of the amateur past to highlight apparent problems with the professional present. Above all, these contributions provide a range of perspectives that enable the reader to take stock at a particular point in what is still a rapidly evolving game. Read in ten or twenty years, this book may confirm that many of the right paths have been taken - or it may provide pointers to crisis as yet unimagined.