Rugby: An Anthology: The Brave, the Bruised and the Brilliant

Rugby: An Anthology: The Brave, the Bruised and the Brilliant

by Brian Levison

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Inspiring and irreverent by turns, Brian Levison's new anthology has drawn on rugby's wealth of excellent writing. Frank Keating, P. G. Wodehouse, Alec Waugh, A. A. Thomson, John Reason and Mick Imlah are among the distinguished names who have written movingly, amusingly and entertainingly about the game they loved.

Great players such as Brian O'Driscoll, Willie John McBride, J. P. R. Williams, Chester Williams, Colin Meads, Gavin Hastings and Brian Moore give us a fascinating insider's view, as does World Cup Final referee Derek Bevan, who reveals what it is like to try to control thirty powerful and often volatile men in a highly competitive situation. But some of the best writing and the wittiest insights come from those who played their rugby at a much less exalted level.

The origins of the game - sometimes true, sometimes fanciful - are explored as are some of its rituals like the haka. There are amusing tales including that of the four Tibetan boys sent by the Dalai Lama to learn the game at Rugby School and an account of New Zealand scrum-half Chris Laidlaw's hostile reception at a village fête in Wales. Along with barely believable stories about the game's hardest men, including the French coach Jean 'le Sultan' Sébédio, who used to conduct training sessions wearing a sombrero and wielding a long whip, and 'Red' Conway who had his finger amputated rather than miss a game for South Africa.

One section 'Double Vision' looks at the same incident from opposing viewpoints, such as when the then relatively inexperienced Irish immortal Willie John McBride took a swing at the mighty All Black Colin Meads in a line-out. Another, 'Giving it Everything', shows how exceptional courage was not restricted to the rugby field but extended to the battle grounds of the First World War.

From the compiler of highly acclaimed All in a Day's Cricket, this selection covers the game from virtually every angle and is sure to delight any rugby fan.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781472135728
Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group
Publication date: 08/27/2015
Sold by: Hachette Digital, Inc.
Format: NOOK Book
File size: 703 KB

About the Author

BRIAN LEVISON has published three collections of poetry and, with Frances Farrar, a compilation of musical anecdotes, Classical Music's Strangest Concerts and Characters. His poems have been published in The Cricketer and broadcast by the BBC. His Remarkable Cricket Grounds has been shortlisted for the Cross Sports Book of the Year in the illustrated book category.

Table of Contents

Foreword xi

Introduction xiii

1 In the Beginning

In the Beginning, Long Before 1823 … John Reason Carwyn James 3

The Evolution of Rugby Frank C. Hawkins E. Seymour-Bell 6

Round About the Ball E. H. D. Sewell 8

Crimson Velvet Caps Jenny Macrory 9

A Crucial Misunderstanding James Corsan 11

Pride in Their Appearance Philip Warner 14

A Short Guide to Spotting Talent Sue Mott 16

2 Invocations

Ka Mate Haka (Attributed to Chief Te Rauparaha, c.1820) 23

The Art of Haka Phil Shirley 24

A Show of Respect Brian O'Driscoll 26

A Prayer J. J. Stewart 27

3 For the Love of It

Mid-Life Crisis Stephen Gauge 33

A Game for Spartans W. Rowe Harding 36

High on Oysters and Pouilly-Fumé Richard Beard 38

Adventures in the Shin Trade Frank Keating 42

The Path of Least Resistance Col. Philip Trevor 46

Making His Way Michael Latham 48

The Priest with a Passion Alex Potter Georges Duthen 50

4 The Hard Men

Some Match. Some Tactic. Some Experience … Willie John McBride Peter Bills 59

'Send the b****** off, Ref!': J. D. Clinch J. B. G. Thomas 62

'Big Arth' Roger McGough 64

PoW Place Kicker: 'Okey' Geffin Chris Greyvenstein 65

Identity and Brutality in the South-West: Jean 'Le Sultan' Sébédio Philip Dine 67

Men, Rough Men and Rugby: Blair Swannell Herbert M. Moran 69

The Gentle Laying-on of Hands E. B. Osborn 71

As Hard as a Miner's Toecap Nick Bishop Alun Carter 74

The Old Master: Boy Louw Chris Greyvenstein 76

5 The Whistle Blowers

The Young Man's Game Alec Waugh 81

Hacked Off at the Head Huw Richards 83

The Boy Referee Derek Bevan Owen Jenkins 84

A Wild Swing Nick Bishop Alun Carter 86

A Necessary Evil Ron Mitchell 87

Art and Style Brian Moore 89

Noises On Jeff Probyn Barry Newcombe 90

An Unforgiving Place Nick Bishop Alun Carter 91

'To the Whistle' 'Alfred Jingle' 92

6 Beyond the Touchline

A Long Memory W. Rowe Harding 97

They Also Serve Who Only Stand and Watch Chris Laidlaw 99

A Childhood Prophecy Robert Collis 100

The Turning Point Phil Vickery Alison Kervin 102

Captain's Poker Stephen Gauge 104

Court of No Appeal Brian Moore 106

Cured by Kowhai George Nepia Terry McLean 108

Don't Swear! H. B. T. Wakelam 110

7 Giving it Everything

The War Game Tony Collins 117

'London Scottish (1914)' Mick Imlah 119

Happiness is a Scotland Cap Colin Deans 120

A Septic Finger: 'Red' Conway Chris Greyvenstein 124

A Great Moment: Twickenham, 1925 Robert Collis 124

A Dark Blue Jersey Howard Marshall 128

8 Time Off

An Arctic Atmosphere Chris Laidlaw 133

The Dalai Lama and the Public School Spirit Robert Collis 134

It's Not Cricket Frank C. Hawkins E. Seymour-Bell 136

The Wond'rous Tale of the Haggis-heads Alex Veysey 137

Morlaès, More or Less Peter Bills 138

Playing by Numbers Philip Warner 140

Scrum Down on the 10.27 Robert Collis 140

The Kiss of Death A. A. Thomson 141

9 Double Vision

View of a Try - I Jeff Probyn Barry Newcombe 147

View of a Try - II Derek Bevan Owen Jenkins 149

A Bit of Nonsense in the Line-out - I Willie John McBride Peter Bills 150

A Bit of Nonsense in the Line-out - II Alex Veysey 151

Ace up Our Sleeves - I Graham Mourie Ron Palenski 153

Ace up Our Sleeves - II J. P. R. Williams Miles Harrison 156

It Never Rains in Durban - I Derek Bevan Owen Jenkins 157

It Never Rains in Durban - II Mark Keohane 161

10 Fliers and dodgers

'The Reverend Mullineux' 'Banjo' Paterson 167

'Suddy' Sutherland Kenneth R. Bogle 168

My Greatest Game: Errol Tobias Bob Holmes Chris Tau 171

The Greatest Welsh Right Wingers Eddie Butler 176

The Two Best Backs Graham Mourie Ron Palenski 177

An Outdistancing Brilliance: C. N. Lowe A. A. Thomson 178

'The Great Day' P. G. Wodehouse 179

A Last Look at the Forth Bridge: Ian Smith W. Rowe Harding 180

The Most Beautiful Player I Ever Saw: Ronnie Poulton A. A. Thomson 181

A Tall Pale Wraith: Peter Jackson John Reason Carwyn James 185

His Own Man: Bert Solomon Tom Salmon 187

'The Rugger Match' J. C. Squire 189

11 Tight Heads and Loose Forwards

Moss Keane in Paris Willie John McBride Peter Bills 195

A Pretty Heavy Dinner Jeff Probyn Barry Newcombe 198

A Shopping Spree: Rives' First Cap Peter Bills 199

Cutting a Swathe John Reason Carwyn James 200

A Night Out in Lyons W. W. Wakefield H. P. Marshall 202

A Magnificent Occasion Derek Bevan Owen Jenkins 205

Women, Liquor and Parties Chris Laidlaw 206

12 Last Line of Defence

A Rugby Genius: W.J. 'Billy' Bancroft J. B. G. Thomas 211

Learning to Punt and Tackle George Nepia Terry McLean 213

Most of All Nepia Denzil Batchelor 217

The Greatest Welsh Full-back Eddie Butler 218

The Pinnacle Gavin Hastings Clem Thomas 219

13 No-Side

Why Do Men Love This Game? A. A. Thomson 225

The Most Innocent Means Robert Lynd 227

The Best of All Possible Worlds? Alec Waugh 228

A Winter's Tale John Dann 230

A Fascinating Game W. Rowe Harding 231

Acknowledgements 234

Index 235

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