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'He's one of the best players I've ever played with. As a forward, I'd say he's the best.' Johnny Sexton Sean O'Brien does not come from a traditional rugby background. He grew up on a farm in Tullow, far from the rugby hotbeds of Limerick and Cork or the fee-paying schools of Dublin. But as he made his way up through the ranks, it soon became clear that he was a very special player and a very special personality. Now, Sean O'Brien tells the remarkable and unlikely story of his rise to the highest levels of world rugby, and of a decade of success with Leinster, Ireland and the British and Irish Lions.
From postman to captain of the British and Irish Lions, Gareth Thomas's story is a remarkable one. Universally known by his nickname Alfie, Thomas has amassed an incredible list of achievements in more than a decade at the top of his sport: in 2005, he racked up not just the Grand Slam but also a Heineken Cup-winner's medal with Toulouse; he stepped into the breach as leader of Sir Clive Woodward's Lions when captain Brian O'Driscoll's tour was prematurely ended; and he reached the milestone of 100 caps, the most won by any Wales player, during the 2007 Rugby World Cup. Away from the field, Thomas's experiences have often read like a real-life soap opera. In 2006, a potentially life-threatening neck injury resulted in a mini-stroke that almost ended his career. There was also a French court appearance for alleged affray, the anguish of the saga surrounding Mike Ruddock's controversial departure in 2006, and a Six Nations ban following an altercation with Ulster supporters at a Heineken Cup match. Yet, amid the highs and lows of a remarkable rugby odyssey, it is Thomas's alternative yet engaging personality that marks him out as a true one-off. Never afraid to speak his mind, he has made it to the top simply by being himself. In "Alfie ," Thomas reveals the inside story of his incredible life and offers readers an insight into one of the most intriguing personalities in rugby.
**Shortlisted for the William Hill Sports Book of the Year Award 2014** Gareth Thomas had it all. He was a national hero, a sporting icon. He was a leader of men, captain of Wales and the British Lions. To him, rugby was an expression of cultural identity, a sacred code. It was no mere ball game. It gave him everything, except the freedom to be himself. This is the story of a man with a secret that was slowly killing him. Something that might devastate not only his own life but the lives of his wife, family, friends and teammates. The only place where he could find any refuge from the pain and guilt of the lie he was living was on the pitch, playing the sport he loved. But all his success didn't make the strain of hiding who he really was go away. His fear that telling the truth about his sexuality would lose him everything he loved almost sent him over the edge. The deceit ended when Gareth became the world's most prominent athlete to come out as a gay man. His gesture has strengthened strangers, and given him a fresh perspective. Gareth's inspiring and moving story transcends the world of sport to tell a universal truth about feeling like an outsider, and facing up to who you really are.
Acclaimed world champions in 2003, the England rugby union team came home from the World Cup in New Zealand eight years later to the sound of silence. Their rugby was uninspiring and their reputation in tatters. Stuart Lancaster - former burger-flipper, PE teacher and the novice Saxons coach - was tasked with turning a failing team around. The transformation was astounding. Now Lancaster's side has the work ethic, humility and resolve to compare with that World Cup-winning team. Much of this is down to their coach, but with so little international experience, how did he bring about this renewal? Part biography, part examination of leadership, The House of Lancaster pulls apart the England rugby machine and looks at how it has been put together. Filled with exclusive interviews from the leading protagonists, players and coaches, as well as containing unprecedented access to Lancaster's methods, The House of Lancaster shows how the vision, personality and leaderships skills of one driven man can turn a team around. This book comes with a foreword from Sir Ian McGeechan OBE.
An ideal introduction to some of the most popular outdoor activities. Each title in the series describes basic techniques, skills, and equipment in an engaging style, and every concept is illustrated with full-color photos and drawings.
Since making his national debut in 1998, Stephen Jones has emerged from the shadows of the true greats of Welsh rugby, such as Barry John, Phil Bennett, Jonathan Davies and Neil Jenkins, to make the fly-half position his own. In this revealing autobiography, he provides a rare insight into the demands and pressures of wearing the almost mythical number 10 jersey that has such a pre-eminent status in the Welsh psyche. As well as playing an integral role in Wales's two Grand Slam victories, Jones has appeared in three Rugby World Cups and was part of the 2005 British and Irish Lions squad. He has witnessed at first hand how the Welsh rugby establishment has struggled with the transition to professionalism, and in this candid memoir he recounts the many highs he has experienced, as well as the challenges he has faced, throughout his career so far. Jones gives an intriguing account of how he became one of the few Welsh players to play in France, recalling the brutality of the game there and how he became a cult figure amongst fans of Clermont Auvergne, where he was twice voted fly-half of the season. In Stephen Jones - A Thinking Man's Game: My Story, the Welsh rugby star reveals how his steely resolve, utter determination and sheer passion for rugby have allowed him to bounce back from numerous setbacks to become one of the most popular and respected figures in the game today.
Based on exclusive interviews with players past and present, Behind the Thistle gives a unique insight into the drama and emotion of representing Scotland in that most rarefied of environments - Test match rugby. Drawing on first-hand interviews from a vast array of former and current players, from Russell Bruce and Frank Coutts in the 1940s, all the way through to the present day, the authors uncover the heart and soul of Scottish rugby, recounting the ecstasy of victory and the despair of defeat, drawing out innumerable humorous anecdotes and heart-warming memories. Behind the Thistle presents an inside access to the private moments in the changing and team rooms, on tour, and on the pitch itself. From the tension before kick-off to the tumultuous heat-of-battle and the high-jinx thereafter, this is the story of what it is like to play for Scotland, the sacrifices and joys experienced by those who have shed blood, sweat and tears in pursuit of glory in the international jersey. Absorbing, illuminating and compelling, this is a must-have for all supporters who have dreamed the dream of playing for Scotland.
This brilliant selection of photographs and stories describes what it means to stare down the most famous ritual in sport, from the perspective of those who have been there. Facing the Haka examines the significance that the All Blacks' haka has in the wider rugby world, as well as the deep respect opponents have for the team. This is about standing in front of the haka, meeting the All Blacks on those key occasions, and reliving the stories of the games that followed. Facing the Haka covers many crucial moments in rugby history with great storytelling, fresh insights and all the information a fan could ask for.
The Rugby Almanack is the world's longest running rugby book of record. It was first published in 1935 to cover the previous season's first-class rugby in New Zealand. Since then it has been published annually without interruption (apart from two combined issues during World War II). The 2015 Rugby Almanack records another huge year, including the All Blacks in the Rugby Championship and the Bledisloe Cup, plus the ITM Cup, Super Rugby and a full summary of women's rugby.
80 quizzes off the pitch about those fateful 80 minutes on it. Rugby quizzes to challenge fans of all ages. The ideal companion for the journey to the match during the Rugby World Cup in Autumn 2015. -- Welsh Books Council
Investigates such diverse aspects of Welsh Rugby such as hangovers, karaoke, police stations, xenophobia, cheating referees, pranks on the team bus and more.
Talks about unsavoury exploits, jokes and drinking stories from rugby trips in one of the best tournaments in the world.
The poignant story of Bryan Yogi Davies who, during a rugby scrum at a match in Bala in 2007, broke his neck and was paralyzed. The book follows his day-to-day struggle to come to terms with the horrific incident.
The All Blacks have had a brilliant run of brothers in the last decade, with the Barretts, Whitelocks, Saveas and Franks, but there have also been many more standouts throughout New Zealand rugby history like the Meads, Whettons, Gears, Bachops and Brownlies. Jamie Wall writes insightfully, revealing fascinating stories and providing analysis of some of the massive changes that have occurred in New Zealand rugby over the years, while sharing great yarns about the high-profile tests that live on in every rugby fan's memory.
Superbly illustrated with over 70 full colour photographs Written by the club historian A full A-Z off all things Cherry and White from the triumphant and legendary to the deliciously trivial. Dave King, known throughout Gloucestershire as THE expert on everything to do with the Cherry and Whites, and a regular fixture in the Club programme for many years, presents his complete A-Z companion to the Club. Providing the sort of essential detail that every fan of the Club should know, plus plenty of diverting trivia to entertain and inform, this is an essential purchase for both diehard and casual fans of Gloucester RFC.
This is a brand new, fully revised and updated edition of the best-selling "Ireland Rugby Miscellany", published in celebration of Ireland's historic 2009 Grand Slam triumph. From Ireland's first international in 1875 to this year's dramatic last-gasp victory - clinching only Ireland's second ever Grand Slam - the "Ireland Rugby Miscellany" is packed with facts, figures, stories, lists and quotes from the rich history of Irish rugby union. Which Irish player played with a monocle? What happened during the Ireland match when the pitch was invaded by frogs? Which Irishman captained the All Blacks? You'll find the answers to all these questions and many, many more on the pages of this neat little green book.
There are moments when the many, through the few, become one. At the 2011 Rugby World Cup a young Welsh side captained by the 22-year-old Sam Warburton, captured the imagination of the rugby-watching world. Exhibiting the grit and brilliance of generations past, an ill-fated semi-final ended in heartbreak. But a fledgling squad playing with the familiarity of brothers had sent out an electrifying message of hope: could this be a third golden generation of Welsh rugby? It was with this question hanging in the air that Owen Sheers took up his position as Writer in Residence for the Welsh Rugby Union. "Calon" is the document of a year spent at the heart of Welsh rugby; the inside story of a 6 Nations campaign that galvanised a nation and ended in Grand Slam success for the third time in 8 years. What does rugby mean to Wales? Where does the heart of Welsh rugby lie? In "Calon", Owen Sheers takes a personal journey into a sport that defines a nation. Drawing on interviews and unprecedented access with players and WRU coaching staff, "Calon" presents an intimate portrait of a national team in the very best tradition of literary sports writing.
The laws of rugby made simple - for players, referees, coaches and spectators - in this indispensable guide, now in its fourth edition and fully updated to include all the latest international law changes from 2001. This is a book packed full of useful information and advice on how the modern game is played. Now all players, novice referees and school coaches seeking to understand more about the rules and regulations can find an answer to their various questions. Featuring all key areas in the game, including: The intricacies of the offside rule * Foul play and dangerous play * Rucks and mauls * Throwing in at the line-outs * Regulations regarding the scoring of points * The advantage law Written in a user-friendly style, with over 60 practical illustrations, you can't afford to be without this definitive reference book.
From a pint and a pie to ice baths and deep tissue massages ! from Cornish Colts to World Cup final captain ! from qualified cattle inseminator to owner of a sports fashion label ! Phil Vickery, aka "Raging Bull", has pretty such seen and done it all in life and in rugby, straddling the amateur and professional eras like a bovine colossus. Raging Bull is the iconic tight-head prop's own incredible story, the tale of a true legend of rugby union; a tough, no-nonsense player who is as fearless and uncompromising on the pitch as he is a great raconteur off it. His career spans amateurism and professionalism, starting in the Cornish countryside and travelling to two World Cup finals and two Lions tours. Vickery is a hugely passionate player. He sports a tattoo which announces 'I'll fight you to the death', and has overcome serious injuries (including eight operations) in a career of stunning highs and devastating lows. He plays his sport in the best traditions of rugby and he is a story teller par excellence. Raging Bull will transport readers to the England front row in Six Nations clashes at Twickenham, to the changing rooms on British Lions tours, and to the bars of many an amateur rugby club. It will remind fans what rugby is really all about - the fun and camaraderie, and the passion and commitment, as the former herdsman turned England and Lions star takes you to the heart and soul of the sport he loves.
Drawing on first hand interviews from more than 75 British Lions tourists since the golden age of the fifties, this book captures what it means to be a British Lions rugby player - the historic victories, the glorious failures and the stories surrounding the icons of rugby such as Edwards, Bennett, Hastings, Guscott, Dallaglio and Johnson. The British and Irish Lions are one of the most famous and recognised teams in world rugby. Every four years, the Lions - selected from the national sides of England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland - head to the southern hemisphere to do battle with either New Zealand, Australia or South Africa. In Once Were Lions, acclaimed sportswriter Jeff Connor interviews a host of players - from the oldest surviving Lions from the 1946 tour and the icons of the game to those who have become mere footnotes in history - and draws out the compelling human stories from each Test series. It's a book that captures the ups and downs of tour life: the pride of being a Lion, the numerous personal feuds and the many humorous anecdotes, taking in the historic wins and the ignoble losses. Many Lions had their lives enriched by having worn the famous red jersey; an equal number had their lives changed irrevocably in the opposite direction. Full of previously unchronicled stories - Des O'Brien was away from home for nine months on the 1946 tour which almost cost him his marriage; while in 1966 one well-known English winger `went off tour' with a woman he met in a bar and reappeared only for the last two matches - the book concludes with the disastrous 2005 New Zealand tour and trenchant opinions from the players on the controversial Clive Woodward. Thanks to a host of amusing and heart-breaking anecdotes about life with the Lions, the book offers a fascinating insight into how touring, sport and life has changed in the last 60 years.
Gregor Townsend is one of rugby's true greats. The most capped Scotland international of all time, a captain of his country and a winning British Lions tourist, Townsend's time in the game has spanned continents, cultures and the amateur and professional eras. Always worth the admission money, his own story provides a unique perspective on rugby. The game of rugby has taken Gregor Townsend from the Scottish border town of Galashiels to the great playing fields of the world: Twickenham, Stade de France, Newlands, Stadium Australia and Eden Park. No current player can provide as comprehensive and objective a perspective on rugby culture as Townsend. 'Frustratingly mercurial,' says one expert commentator of Scotland's most celebrated fly-half. 'He can empty bars with his brilliance,' waxes another in contrast. But no-one can question his commitment as a pioneer of the cosmopolitan rugby life. From year-round seasons playing for both Gala and Australian side Warringah, he joined the Ian McGeechan revolution at Northampton -- alongside England greats Matt Dawson, Paul Grayson and Tim Rodber -- becoming a fan's favourite. He has featured in some of the biggest matches in the sport -- Grand Slam showdowns with England in 1995 and 1996, World Cup quarter-finals in 1999 and 2003 against New Zealand and Australia, British Lions Test victories, and European and French Cup Finals. Along the way, Townsend recounts his experiences of working alongside some of the greats of the world game -- Gavin Hastings, Clive Woodward, Martin Johnson, Jonny Wilkinson, Jim Telfer, Ian McGeechan, and many more. He reveals how a team-mate tried to persuade the entire Scottish XV to sign up for rival Kerry Packer's professional league. He details his shock at being omitted from the 2001 Lions squad, and the infamous 1994 Scotland tour to Argentina where he was blasted for his performances and almost gave up the sport. And he discloses for the first time the controversial circumstances behind his enforced international retirement. From his candid descriptions of the fierce political battles of selection to the events leading to professionalism that almost destroyed union, Gregor Townsend shows what it has meant to have experienced a lifetime playing, thinking and living rugby.
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