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SHORTLISTED FOR RUGBY BOOK OF THE YEAR AT THE 2020 TELEGRAPH SPORTS BOOK AWARDS. 'excellent' Donald McRae, The Guardian 'Gatland is the master' Sir Ian McGeechan 'Gatland is a coaching star' Sir Clive Woodward 'Gats is one of the all-time great coaches' Sam Warburton Warren Gatland is one of the world's most renowned and intriguing rugby coaches of the modern era, leading Wales to four Six Nations titles, three Grand Slams and two World Cup semi-finals and masterminding two history-making tours as Head Coach of the British and Irish Lions. As he leaves his post as Head Coach of Wales at the end of the 2019 Rugby World Cup, Gatland's definitive autobiography provides a colourful and vivid chronicle of an extraordinary three decades at rugby's dynamic coal-face. The personal journey has been rewarding and challenging in equal measure, spanning many of the sport's most passionate heartlands such as New Zealand, Ireland, England and, of course, Wales. Gatland reflects in characteristically forthright and intelligent fashion on a lifetime spent playing and coaching the sport which has been his passion since as a young boy he first picked up an oval ball on New Zealand's North Island, dreaming of joining the ranks of the mighty All Blacks. Along the way we encounter the greatest matches, players and rivalries the sport has to offer, get introduced to a stunning cast of unforgettable characters who grace the story with their humour and humanity, and emerge with a striking appreciation of what makes this outstanding rugby man tick.
What is the state of rugby? Is the game on the brink of expansion? Or is it on the brink of implosion? No game has undergone so traumatic a transformation since the turn of the century. The last of the major sports to embrace professionalism, rugby was propelled on a trajectory that has twisted its cumbersome frame to the limit in a drama compelling and appalling to behold. After a hundred years defying the future, rugby now shudders with the turmoil of its sudden leap into the modern world, attaining heights hitherto undreamed of, even as the strains - financial, political, social and medical - threaten to tear it apart. Unholy Union is a fascinating and in-depth analysis of the sport, examining the journey so far and speculating on where it will go next. It is irreverent and provocative, asking uncomfortable questions of rugby, but imbued throughout with affection for a game that integrates all human life, as beautiful as it is ugly, as in love with itself as it is terrified. Sports enter periods that make or break them. Rugby is in one now . . .
Runcorn was a hotbed of rugby in the late Victorian era, the town's club a proud founder member in 1895 of the Northern Union - the breakaway game that became known as Rugby League. Yet that great rugby tradition was ended by the First World War, with devastating effects for many Runcornians, including members of the rugby club, who served and lost their lives. Runcorn nurtured ten international rugby players in total, all but one born within a few hundred yards of the Irwell Lane ground. Respected sports writer and historian Michael Latham recreates those far-off days when the oval ball dominated and the town's heroes included Harry Speakman, a member of the first rugby tourists to Australia, Sam Houghton, Jimmy Butterworth, Jimmy Jolley and Dick Padbury, among just a few in a gallery of colourful characters, the rugby league superstars of their day. With a detailed biographical and records section to complement the deeply researched narrative, this is one of the most comprehensive histories ever written about the Northern Union and contains around three hundred photographs. Harry Price was once a promising Runcorn player, snapped up by Wigan in 1906, where he became a highly regarded and popular player and captain. The report announcing his signing in the Wigan newspaper had a simple, approving testimonial: "Price was born in Runcorn, the home of footballers." Hence the book's title.
It is estimated that the First World War claimed the lives of 40,000 Welshmen, all of them heroes whose sacrifice is honoured by a grateful nation. 'Call them to remembrance', which includes 120 illustrations and maps, tells the stories of 13 Welsh heroes who shared the common bond of having worn the famous red jersey of the Welsh international rugby team. Gwyn Prescott's sensitive and fascinating book, the product of over ten year's research and study, recovers the memory of these thirteen multi-talented and courageous Welshmen who gave their lives in the Great War of 1914-18, detailing their playing and military careers. Amongst their stories are the leading amateur golfer in Wales who represented Newport at five sports; the Cambridge choral scholar who gave up his job in India to volunteer for the Army; the flying Cardiff winger who impressed Lloyd George; and the "lion-hearted" hero of the famous Welsh victory over New Zealand in 1905.
Voted Rugby Book of the Year at the 2018 Sports Book Awards. Wrecking Ball is a captivating and humorous memoir by Billy Vunipola, one of the stars of England's recent rugby renaissance, and will be enjoyed by those who have read the recent autobiographies by Jonny Wilkinson, Brian O'Driscoll, Dan Carter and Paul O'Connell. Standing at 6 feet 2 inches and weighing almost 20 stone, Billy is a rampaging and unmissable presence on the rugby pitch, for both club and country. Wrecking Ball is his captivating story so far, chronicling his remarkable personal odyssey of 10,000 miles, from the tiny Tongan village of Longo Longo to the imposing vastness of Twickenham. Join Billy on his journey from the year-round sunshine of Tonga to the bitter cold of a British winter, from his favourite Pontypool kebab shop to finding himself eating broccoli for breakfast, and from carefree childhood games in the middle of the Pacific to the serious business of playing professional rugby in Europe. Wrecking Ball is a wonderfully eccentric and witty book, written with bags of charm. It captures Billy's colourful family and upbringing, and creates a rounded and fascinating portrait of a young man finding his feet as a modern English rugby player.
The first biography of the enigmatic coach who has completely transformed the England rugby team. After Eddie Jones began coaching England's rugby team, they won 22 of their next 23 matches. The side that limped out of the 2015 World Cup was thoroughly revitalised. But who was the unconventional figure responsible for this change of fortune? And, given recent setbacks, will Eddie be able to inspire England to bring their best to the 2019 World Cup? From his school days playing alongside the legendary Ella brothers to his masterminding of Japan's jaw-dropping World Cup victory over South Africa, Eddie Jones has always been a polarising figure, known for his punishing work ethic. Constantly controversial, never complacent, Jones has truly shaken up English rugby. Drawing on over a hundred interviews with former teammates, players, administrators, coaching colleagues and Jones himself, veteran rugby writer Mike Colman brings a rare level of insight to his biography of this singular man.
Covering the period from the game's origins in Ireland in the 1870s through to the onset of professional rugby in the twenty-first century, this book seeks to examine Munster rugby within the context of broader social, cultural and political trends in Irish society. As well as providing a thorough chronological survey of the game's development, key themes such as violence, masculinity, class and politics are subject to more detailed treatment. Since the turn of the twenty-first century rugby football in Munster has seen extraordinary growth in terms of popularity and cultural significance. The Munster rugby team in particular has become a hugely important provincial institution through which regional identity has been expressed on the international stage. This book will detail and analyse the game's evolution in Munster from its origins in the 1870s through to the dawn of the professional era in the 2000s. Focusing mainly on the game's two centres of popularity in Limerick and Cork cities, this book will display how contrary to popular myth, rugby football rarely expressed any kind of unitary, coherent identity throughout the province. The game was centred on clubs and was highly adaptable to local conditions throughout its history. In addition, the often fractious internal politics of the game within the province, reflecting the game's contrasting social development in Limerick and Cork, will also be discussed. Drawing on the unpublished records of the game's provincial and national administrative bodies and a comprehensive survey of the provincial press, this book will show how one sport served multifarious roles in terms of class, culture and politics in Munster.
We all like choosing the best-ever Welsh rugby team, but here is a XV with a difference. Here they are not players but writers. The exploits of the people's heroes from Gould to Gareth Edwards are vividly recaptured in some classic prose. So too are the expectations and emotions of the most passionate followers in the world. They deserve the best team we can put out. Here it is, a selection of world beating writing on Welsh rugby: The First XV. With an introduction by Gerald Davies, the featured authors include Richard Burton, Gwyn Thomas, Frank Keating, Alun Richards and many more.
'We spent all our time surrounded by police cordons and barbed wire, never mind having our bus hijacked.' - Tommy Bedford, Springboks No. 8 2019 and 2020 mark the fiftieth anniversary of the controversial 1969/70 Springbok rugby tour of the British Isles - a landmark event on both a sporting and political level. Taking place during the time of South Africa's apartheid dispensation, the tour was characterised throughout by violent demonstrations against the 'ambassadors of apartheid'. Scenes of chanting demonstrators at the players' hotels and airports were not uncommon, nor was the sight of protesters being dragged off the field of play by police. Smoke bombs and flour bombs also became a match-day fixture. These were wild and unnerving times for the players on tour, whose movements were badly inhibited and who had to play hide-and-seek to avoid possible violence between games of rugby. During a demanding tour that lasted more than three months and took them to and fro between England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland, they endeavoured to sustain a proud tradition of highly successful Springbok tours through the Isles. Through personal interviews with the players, including team captain Dawie de Villiers, vice-captain Tommy Bedford and other senior members of the squad, as well as key figures such as anti-apartheid campaigner Peter Hain, Rugby Behind Barbed Wire takes readers into the inner circle of a besieged group of sportsmen who just wanted to play rugby despite concerted efforts to deny them. The author also looks at the political context of events, and why so many felt that disrupting the tour was a matter of moral and political necessity.
In More Blood, Sweat and Beers, World Cup-winning rugby legend Lawrence Dallaglio shares his favourite stories from his time at International rugby's greatest tournament. With razor-sharp wit and good humour he lets the reader behind the closed doors of the tournament, to see what happens on and off the pitch when the cameras aren't looking. All the great names are here - Blanco, Lomu and Pienaar among them - and in his time Dallaglio has shared pints or blows (or both) with them all and has lived to tell the stories. Funny, frank and fully loaded with quick-fire banter these are the best of the best tales of the legends of the International stage.
A collection of biographical, anecdotal, and literary essays on Britain's consuming passion for rugby, this account describes the exploits of the people's heroes from Gould to Gareth Edwards. The beauty and exhilaration of the game is vividly recaptured in classic prose, as are the emotions and expectations of the most passionate rugby aficionados in the world. From the humorous to the erudite, this selection features work from the likes of Richard Burton, Frank Keating, John Morgan, Dylan Thomas, Alan Watkins, and Harry Webb.
Carwyn James treated rugby football as if it was an art form and aesthetics part of the coaching manual. This son of a miner, from Cefneithin in the Gwendraeth Valley, was a cultivated literary scholar, an accomplished linguist, a teacher, and a would-be patriot politician, who also won two caps for Wales. He was the first man to coach any British Lions side to overseas victory, and still the only one to beat the All Blacks in a series in New Zealand. That was in 1971, and it was followed in 1972 by the triumph of his beloved Llanelli against the touring All Blacks at Stradey Park. These were the high-water marks of a life of complexity and contradiction. His subsequent and successful career as broadcaster and journalist and then a return to the game as a coach in Italy never quite settled his restless nature. After his sudden death, alone in an Amsterdam hotel, his close friend, the Pontypridd-born writer, Alun Richards set out through what he called "A Personal Memoir" to reflect on the enigma that had been Carwyn.The result, a masterpiece of sports writing, is a reflection on the connected yet divergent cultural forces which had shaped both the rugby coach and the author; a dazzling sidestep of an essay in both social and personal interpretation.
By 1971 no Lions team had ever defeated the All Blacks in a Test series. Since 1904, six Lions sides had travelled to New Zealand and all had returned home bruised, battered and beaten. But the 1971 tour party was different. It was full of young, ambitious and outrageously talented players who would all go on to carve their names into the annals of sporting history during a golden period in British and Irish rugby. And at their centre was Carwyn Jones - an intelligent, sensitive rugby mastermind who would lead his team into the game's hardest playing arena while facing a ferocious, tragic battle in his personal life, all in pursuit of a seemingly impossible dream. Up against them was an All Blacks team filled with legends in the game in the likes of Colin Meads, Brian Lochore, Ian Kirkpatrick, Sid Going and Bryan Williams. But as the Lions swept through the provinces, lighting up the rugby fields of New Zealand the pressure began to mount on the home players in a manner never seen before. As the Test series loomed, it became clear that a clash that would echo through the ages was about to unfold. And at its conclusion, it was obvious to all that rugby would never be the same again.
Who are the fifteen best players ever to represent Wales at rugby? We all know the answers, but all our answers are different! In pubs and clubs, in classrooms and chat rooms the length and breadth of this rugby-mad nation, this is a question that prompts energetic and entertaining debate; a question that has divided households and destabilized lifelong friendships. In The Greatest Welsh XV Ever, which includes over 130 full-colour photographs, Eddie Butler has gone where angels (and ex-international back-row forwards) fear to tread. Devoting a chapter to each position on the field, he produces a shortlist of the great players, before making his final, decisive, definitive choice in each case. So will it be Barry John or Phil Bennett at number 10? Jamie Roberts or John Dawes at number 12? Graham Price or Adam Jones at number 3? This is your chance to join in the greatest national debate since devolution.
Budge Rogers: A Rugby Life is the long overdue biography of one of rugby's most iconic players, Derek Prior Budge Rogers. The story of the wing forward who lit up rugby grounds around the world in the 1960s and 1970s with dazzling and determined wing play, Rogers is a true rugby great. He captained Bedford RFC for five seasons, including the year they won the National Cup in his last game for the club. He spent nine years as England captain and toured overseas with the British Lions and Barbarians - with many a tale to be told from these trips, which are a real highlight of his story. Rogers's exemplary playing career was followed by years in management and administration at the highest level as both Chairman of England Selectors and President of the RFU. An OBE soon followed. A player who epitomised the best values in the amateur game, he also became a key figure in managing the difficult transition of rugby from its amateur status into the modern, professional game we know today. Budge Rogers: A Rugby Life gives a unique insight into the life of this electrifying wing forward and his time at the top of the sport.
As a Premiership, World Cup, and Grand Slam winner, no one better embodies the charisma and the color of English rugby's greatest era than Lawrence Dallaglio. He has some story to tell, not just of the formidable exploits on the field, but an extraordinary life off it. His only sister, Francesca, was the youngest to perish in the "Marchioness" disaster and her death at 19 remains the great sadness of his life. In addition to this and his much-talked about England exploits, he also led his club Wasps to the summit of European rugby, winning two Heineken Cups and three consecutive English Premiership titles. Full of drama, controversy, and great sadness, Lawrence Dallaglio's story--the last of the great World Cup heroes--is the one every rugby fan has been waiting to read.
In Animated by Uncertainty, Joshua D. Rubin analyzes South African rugby through the lens of aesthetic politics. Building on 17 months of ethnographic research with rugby coaches, players, and administrators, the author argues that rugby is a form of performance and further that the qualities that define rugby shape the political ends to which the sport can be put. In this respect, Animated by Uncertainty demonstrates that theories of sporting politics cannot afford to overlook the qualities of the sports themselves, and it provides a theoretical approach to illustrate how these qualities can be studied. The book also analyzes the ways that apartheid and colonialism inhere in South African institutions and practices. Drawing inspiration from the observation that South Africans could always abandon rugby if they chose to do so, Rubin highlights how the continuing significance of rugby as a form of performance brings traces of South Africa's apartheid and colonial past into the country's contemporary political moment.
Listed as one of the five worst international selections ever, and described in a book about Scottish rugby as 'a full back slower than your average prop', Ian Smith cheerfully won eight caps for Scotland in a career that saw him score every point for his team on his debut in an historic victory over South Africa (and in so doing became the first Scottish full back to score a Test try) and defeated a star-studded England team to lift the Calcutta Cup at Murrayfield in the 1970 Five Nations. One of eight international full backs to have come out of Heriot's FP, Smith also played for a dashing, innovative Edinburgh University side that revolutionised attacking back play. But this book is so much more than a story of a fleeting Test career. It is a window to another time, when a player could appear, as Smith did, for his club's third XV and two weeks later make his international debut for his country. And then, eight Tests later, return to his club where he was only considered good enough to play for the second XV.
Martin Johnson is the towering second row forward who has come to set the standards of what a professional rugby player should do. His drive and physical presence mean that he is a natural leader on the pitch - and off it, too. In this, his long-awaited autobiography, he looks at the changing world of rugby. He explains why he led the England team to the brink of a strike in the autumn of 2000, and provides the definitive account of England's 2003 World Cup triumph, as well as Lions tours and all the goings-on that make rugby such a special sport. Hugely popular and respected, Martin Johnson has written vivid autobiography and a remarkable portrait of modern rugby.
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