Saturday, 10 September 2011

The Heart of Rugby

Apparently there’s a bit of a shindig going on in New Zealand at the moment. How do I know this? Well, largely due to the fact that I’m being contacted on a daily basis by all manner of companies (who usually ignore me all year round) asking me to promote their wares on my humble little blog.

I do wonder why they bother. A cursory bit of research (one glance at the blog) would have revealed that TF does not carry advertising – not necessarily out of principle but because I know from experience that there is very little money to be made from advertising or affiliate deals unless your audience is humongous.

So, unless anyone would like to offer me unfeasibly stupid amounts of cash I remain, through circumstance, strictly amateur.

That said, every now and then an email drops into my inbox that does spark my interest and one such email arrived last week from the publishers of a book entitled UNION: The Heart of Rugby, offering me a copy of the book to review.

UNION, it must be said, is right up my street – a coffee table book conceived as a celebration of the heart and soul of rugby and launched to coincide with the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand. It features more than 150 memorable photographs taken by award-winning photographers alongside text by award-winning author Paul Thomas based on interviews with five legends of the game: John Kirwan, Nick Farr-Jones, Philippe Sella, Joel Stransky and Martin Johnson.

Many of the photographs are instantly recognisable – the ubiquitous Fran Cotton Mud Monster, for instance, but the book also features many pictures that I had not previously seen and it is these more obscure (and mostly black and white) photos that are of particular fascination to a self-confessed rugby geek like tours truly.

UNION is also liberally sprinkled with quotations – from the above 5 legends as well as from other rugby (and some non-rugby) personalities, my two favourites being:

“Playing rugby at school I once fell on a loose ball and, through ignorance and fear, held on despite a fierce pummelling. After that it took me months to convince my team-mates I was a coward.” - Peter Cook


Rugby is a game for big buggers. If you're not a big bugger, you get hurt. I wasn't a big bugger but I was a fast bugger and therefore I avoided the big buggers.” – Spike Milligan.

Bottom line is that UNION is absolutely my cup of tea (or indeed coffee) and, having looked through it a couple of times now, I suspect it is a book that I will go back to time and time again.

It is available from all good bookshops (and no doubt one or two rubbish ones too).

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