Ten Rugby books to read in a time of hiatus

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We've listed 10 rugby books you might enjoy to help cope with the loss of rugby action.

 

They are, in no particular order:

 

The Rugby War by Peter Fitzsimons

 

Now that professional rugby has been around for 25 years, the pause in Super Rugby provides time to consider all that has happened. The transfer from amateur rugby to professional happened so quickly in 1995, although many would say it was inevitable from the time it was agreed to stage a Rugby World Cup, and Fitzsimons' book is the standard history of how it all evolved.

 

Iceman by Robin McConnell

 

Just how notable this book was can be gleaned from the fact that it is among the hardest to find of rugby biographies. The story of one of the finest to play the game in All Blacks flanker Michael Jones, it is an in-depth look at a player who was reaching the peak of his powers when struck down by a debilitating leg injury. While he defied the odds and returned to Test rugby, he did it by developing from an open side flanker to a blindside, yet his effect on games did not diminish at all.

All Black Magic by Terry McLean

 

TP McLean is among the most prolific of rugby writers. His annual tour books became a must-read for rugby fans. There were several that were notable records, including Willie Away, the story of Wilson Whineray's team to Britain, Ireland and France in 1963-64, or his books on the 1970 and 1976 All Blacks tours to South Africa Beaten by the Boks and Goodbye to Glory and They Missed the Bus of the fateful 1972-73 tour. But among the most enjoyable, and significant, was that of the hastily-arranged 1967 tour of Britain, France and North America. Coming as a replacement for a scheduled tour of South Africa, it coincided with coach Fred Allen's transformation of the All Blacks game to include more movement of the ball, the forerunner of the modern game. Along the way there was the Colin Meads ordering off.

 

Rugby, A New Zealand History by Ron Palenski

 

Undoubtedly the most complete, and engaging history of the game in New Zealand, Ron Palenski's book will keep readers occupied for a long time. But outlining much of the background to events that have made All Blacks history what it is, he provides knowledge and perspective that is often overlooked in less memorable books. Well illustrated too, it brings out many of the personalities and incidents that have shaped the modern era.

 

 Rugby books

New Zealand Rugby Greats, Vols 1, 2 and 3 by Bob Howitt

 

Originally produced in separate volumes, this book is now available in one complete edition and provides some personalised background on some of the finest names to have graced rugby in New Zealand. The foundation editor of Rugby News, Bob Howitt, conducted interviews with all the subjects included in the volumes to provide personalised history and memories of many of the memorable incidents to have occurred in All Blacks rugby.

 

The Shield by Lindsay Knight

 

Before the days of professional rugby, the Ranfurly Shield was the outstanding prize in New Zealand rugby below the international level. To have played in a Ranfurly Shield challenge was a significant achievement for the provincial player of yore while to have been a member of winning sides was a special feat. Players who did that were guaranteed a permanent place in their union's history. A book with plenty of the drama and intrigue that surrounded the Shield, both on and off the field.

 

The World of Rugby by Carwyn James and John Reason

 

This book accompanied a documentary series on rugby produced in the late-1970s by one of the great coaches in rugby history Carwyn James, the man who master-minded the 1971 British & Irish Lions success in New Zealand, and acerbic but readable Daily Telegraph journalist John Reason. It is a thematic look at rugby's development through the years and pays due acknowledgement to the role of Fred Allen's 1967 side in giving the game a boost when it most needed it.

The Game for all New Zealand by Peter Bush

 

If you are worn out by all the words involved in these books you could recover by enjoying the photographic skills of Peter Bush in capturing through pictures the effect of rugby on New Zealanders. As the title suggests, this is a book celebrating rugby at all levels in New Zealand. Bush travelled far and wide through the country to produce a unique collection that still stands the test of time.

 

The Wallabies at War by Greg Growden

 

Australian rugby journalist and historian Greg Growden produced a fascinating variation on your usual rugby book when looking at Wallabies who were part of Australia's contribution to war service in World Wars One and Two. Some of his selections are not well known, but others are, and the book is a reminder of the way rugby players had their careers interrupted by conflagration, some of them paying the ultimate sacrifice. When you sometimes feel that rugby is a bit carried away with itself, this is the type of book that reminds you that no one is greater than the game.

 

Winter Colours by Donald McRae

 

Former South African schoolteacher Donald McRae, who left his country in the mid-1980s, to avoid having to do his military service in the apartheid army, returned to post-apartheid South Africa when the country staged the 1995 Rugby World Cup. What follows is not only a look at rugby in South Africa, but the world game through the era of transition from amateur to professional from World Cup to 1997 British & Irish Lions tour of South Africa. Along the way it looks at other elements of the game with New Zealand angles provided by interviews with Jonah Lomu, Michael Jones, Josh Kronfeld and Christian Cullen.

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