A Few Good Reads for the Relaxed RugbyLAD
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If you’re a lad who likes to relax by recounting rugby careers of old, RugbyLAD have looked at some past players’ autobiographies in order to help you pick one you’d like.
It’s In The Blood: My Life (Lawrence Dallaglio)
The ex-England player and captain writes openly and candidly about everything in his life, from the tragedy of his sister’s death to winning the World Cup with England to his brief yet unhappy marriage separation. Incredibly frank, Dallaglio leaves you turning page after page as he describes life’s incredible highs and devastating lows.
Tales of England tours, Lions’ tours and World Cups are all told, along with brilliant details which bring us right into the heart of Wasps, Dallaglio’s club. He tells of how, as a young player, he was scouted not only for Italy but for Ireland as well. A chapter is also designated to the ‘drug dealer scandal’ which lost him the England captaincy, in which he blames the journalists who set him up along with himself for playing along. Some stories will have you laughing out loud, others will have you putting the book down in order to digest what you just read. All in all, a fantastic read.
Bull: My Story (John Hayes)
If your a fan of the humble Hayes, his story is right up your alley. Characteristically modest, Hayes tells of his start to rugby as a teenager and the path it took him on. He credits as many people as he can and makes sure not to exclude anybody.
He writes as honestly as he played. He describes the long journey Munster were forced to take before winning the destined prize in 2006 and 2008 and makes no excuses for their failures along the way. He is so humble that he credits his opponents throughout his career, not only by saying the games themselves were tough, but by naming them individually as well. Hayes’ story has plenty of laughs throughout, especially when he describes the humiliations and jokes his team mates played on him throughout his career, and also shows how important family life is to the Cappamore farmer. A great book written by a modest man.
Rainbow Warrior (Francois Pienaar)
Although the autobiography doesn’t delve deeply into the hardships South Africa faced as a country during his playing years, Pienaar describes his rugby career thoroughly from starting at school to finishing in Saracens. He never once questions his abilities throughout his story and you feel almost as if he believed himself to be one of the greatest flankers to ever play.
In respect to the 1995 World Cup winning captain, it would be extremely difficult not to reference the Springboks’ World Cup journey and he does so very well. He expertly describes the players along with his close relationships with his coaches and Nelson Mandela. He also describes how he was almost forced to take his career to England and his role in developing a then sub-standard Saracens. A good read if you liked him as a player.
Red Blooded (Alan Quinlan)
Out of all the autobiographies written by past players, this one has to be up there as one of the most brutally honest. Quinlan’s story is told through hilarious stories and dismally depressing tales. It’s clear he wrote this as he played: in your face and to the point.
‘Quinny’ humourously talks about his youth and early playing days with Clanwilliam, Shannon and Munster before becoming more serious in talking about his dreams and international ambitions. He discusses his injuries and his disciplinary issues with clarity, but the most poignant moment of the book comes when he describes his feelings after his self-imposed exclusion from the 2009 Lions tour and the actions he took in order to recover. An incredibly honest and brilliant read.
Chester (Mark Keohane)
A biography rather than an autobiography, this tells the story of Chester Williams, the sole black player in the 1995 South African World Cup winning squad. He tells of his non-political upbringing, the death of his brother, how he was never really interested in playing rugby as a youngster and what it was like for a black rugby player trying to make it in post-Apartheid South Africa.
Chester is set in the same time-frame as Pienaar’s work but rugby is shown in a completely different light than his international captain’s story. Chester tells of the hardships he endured because of his colour and of the isolation he felt in the Springbok camp. He tells of how other black players were not given the same chances as their white comrades and gives a wonderful insight into what it was like to play under a certain Nick Mallet. Chester gives a valuable insight into life as a black Springbok in post-Apartheid South Africa, a valuable read for any rugby enthusiast.
Engage: The Fall and Rise of Matt Hampson (Paul Kimmage)
A biography based on the life of Matt Hampson, a fantastic young Leicester and England prospect who was left paralysed after a freak training ground accident. Hampson’s story is hugely inspirational and a must read for any player who has ever felt upset or frustrated by an injury, or for those who simply wish to read the most inspiring modern day biography.
Hampson tells his story, a story that will leave you laughing and crying, sometimes at the same time. The majority of the book is written as if it was based in a courtroom setting, with interviews given from Hampson’s fellow players and ex-coaches. This incredibly brave ex-prop shows his braveness as he does not let the injury hamper him in any way. He not only shows his love for rugby and Leicester, but also for his family, his friends and his life. A five-star read for any athlete, regardless of sport.
The Autobiography (Jonah Lomu)
Lomu omits no detail in his no-holds-barred autobiography, honestly depicting his early life and troublesome youth. He tells of the trouble he got into as a teenager and how rugby ended up as a fantastic outlet for his anger, becoming somewhat of a savour in his life.
One of the most famous wingers to ever play with the infamous All Blacks, Lomu writes about his entire career. His story includes the tales of his first training sessions with the All Blacks (including a humorous training ground incident which also highlights the seriousness in which All Blacks take their training), his ambitions, his love for the Sevens game, his relationships on and off the field and, finally, the illness which forced him to give up the game. The Autobiography gives the reader a fantastic look at Lomu’s life and is a must-read for any All Black or rugby fanatic.
The Outsider (Geordan Murphy)
One of the most under-valued players during Eddie O’Sullivan’s Ireland reign, yet one of Leicester’s greatest overseas signings, The Outsider tells the life of Geordan Murphy’s rugby life. His story begins as an out half at junior level at home in Naas before playing as a teenager in New Zealand to finishing as full back for one of the most powerful clubs in European history.
Murphy’s rugby life is told in complete honesty, including many references towards his relationship with Eddie O’Sullivan (who, in his own autobiography, Never Die Wondering, states very clearly that he and Murphy had no problem at all). He tells us how he started at junior level before travelling to Leicester for a trial and living with no other than Martin Johnson’s parents! Murphy’s desire to succeed is well documented, with some comedic stories put in along the way including IRFU officials, Martin Johnson, the Tuilagi family and, in particular, one very funny story which took place on the training ground involving Lewis ‘Mad Dog’ Moody. A great read for any Irish rugby follower.
Other books which may be of interest to RugbyLads:
Beware of the Dog by Brian Moore
Tackling Life by Jonny Wilkonson
The Autobiography by Martin Jonhson
My Autobiography by Ronan O’Gara
Between the Lines by Matthew Knight
Playing the Enemy by John Carlin
Stand Up and Fight: How Munster Beat the All Blacks by Alan English
Brothers in Sport: Rugby by Charlie Mulqueen
Rags to Riches: The Story of Munster Rugby by Barry Coughlan
Never Die Wondering by Eddie O’Sullivan
Which rugby books have you RugbyLADs enjoyed reading in the past?