SOMETIMES there's nothing quite as relaxing as burying your head in a good yarn, so we've had a look at recent offerings, and here are just a few which that you should really get your hands.
ENGAGE - THE FALL AND RISE OF MATT HAMPSON
by Paul Kimmage
THIS is one of the most engaging [excuse the pun] books I have ever read. No publication in the past has caused such a diverse raft of emotions, from laughing out loud to sobbing. It is the most moving, personal, raw and from the heart account of the most painful journey of a young man who's senior international hopes were dashed in one scrum in training which changed his life and that of his family and friends forever. And now this inspirational cheeky chappy is making life better for others in a similar position across the globe, even though he cannot do anything for himself - not even breathe without his 'wood pigeon'. From England U21 prop to paraplegic and extraordinary fund raiser, Matt Hampson is a true legend, and Engage deserves every accolade it has been awarded including the 'William Hill Irish Sportsbook of the Year 2011'.
JONNY: MY AUTOBIOGRAPHY
by Jonny Wilkinson and Owen Slot
WRITTEN with Owen Slot, Chief Sports Reporter of The Times, this biography is a most fascinating text. It is an absolute must read for any fan of Jonny Wilkinson, and captures the essence of this obsessive, compulsive, driven and most dedicated fly half the world has ever seen on the international rugby scene. Every nuance, every moment of pain, every self-doubt is captured with such accuracy - you will feel his pain, his stress, his angst, and his frustration from being a 7 year playing in the Farnham minis feeling physically sick at the thought of having to play a match, to the 32-year old Rugby World Cup winner missing kicks in his fourth world cup in New Zealand. But understand, you will not just read about his stress, you will feel it...it is the strangest manifestation of his pain translating into a physical reaction in the reader. Excellent...but disturbing!
SONNY BILL WILLIAMS: THE STORY OF RUGBY'S NEW SUPERSTAR
by John Matheson
WHEN in 2008 Williams turned his back on the Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs and rugby league, ‘SBW’ was one of sport’s most maligned brands. His move to French rugby was vilified throughout Australasian sports media. But 3 years later, many of those same scribes are now singing his praises as one of the All Blacks’ greatest hopes as New Zealand looks ahead to the 2011 Rugby World Cup. The Story of Rugby’s New Superstar tells the story of Williams’s stunning transformation from one of league ‘most hated’ to one of rugby’s ‘most loved’. A fascinating insight into Williams’s many struggles: his battles with Sydney’s paparazzi-style media, his personal demons, and his on-field showdowns. It also looks at his personal crusade to make it in the ranks of heavyweight boxing. And after reading Sonny Bill Williams you will be left in no doubt that despite his critics’ best efforts, Sonny Bill Williams is much more about substance than hype.
LEWIS MOODY: MAD DOG - AN ENGLISHMAN
by Lewis Moody and Ian Stafford
FORMER England captain and Rugby World Cup winner Lewis Moody has no sides, he has no agenda apart from doing what he does to the best of his ability, and he is a pretty straight-forward chap. This is a very straight-forward book. It does nothing more than tell of his life, his struggles, his family, his passion, his illness, his Leicester obsession but then surprise move to Bath in the twilight of his rugby career. Stafford animates this not hugely outspoken player into quite a character, and makes for a very enjoyable read. Mad Dog is written in collaboration with award-winning sports writer Ian Stafford.
MORE THOUGHTS OF CHAIRMAN MOORE
by Brian Moore
PITBULL is back and angrier than ever, with another collection of hilariously well-observed and rambunctiously argued grievances about the mad world of sport and beyond. Following the success of The Thoughts of Chairman Moore, Volume I, you might have hoped that sport's powers that be would have sat up and taken notice of its many faults and flaws. But alas no, lunacy prevails and so Brian has taken it upon himself to put forward another collection of his unique insights and not-so-unique frustrations. Uproariously funny and spot-on in its every complaint, Volume II is required reading for anyone who can't live without sport but who also can't help but wonder at its unbridled idiocy. It's another hugely entertaining Pitbull offering which would grace any bathroom shelf as most apt reading.
WORLD CUP RUGBY TALES
by Lawrence Dallaglio
MUCH like the Pitbull's perfect bathroom fodder, Lol's World Cup Rugby Tales makes for some excellent reading that one can dip in and out of as one has just a few moments to spare. For the second time, this Rugby World Cup winner has trawled through stories -some bordering on folklore- from his circle of international friends and colleagues to let us in on some rather amusing moments reaching as far back as the first very amateur affair in 1987, right through to his personal final appearance on the world stage in 2007. A proper giggle fest, and all in aid of the terribly good cause that is Wooden Spoon.
SPLASHDOWN: THE STORY OF MY WORLD CUP YEAR
by Chris Ashton and Paul Morgan
THIS chronicle is written with the help of Paul Morgan, Rugby Writer and former long-standing editor of Rugby World. Don't be fooled - this is not Chris Ashton's crazy attempt at producing a biography at the tender age of 24 when he has barely begun to live. But it is a charming diary of his journey from his explosive England debut in the Autumn Internationals of 2010, through to England's unfortunate exit from the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand. And yes it does address everything, though maybe not in as much detail as you may like. Though in his defence, his glossing over the controversies England faced down under are rather appropriate since nothing actually happened of any significance. It's not going to rock anyone's world, but it is a very interesting insight into the machinations of a young player's mind & how England did it's thing under the old regime.
THE TREASURES OF INTERNATIONAL RUGBY UNION
by Richard Bath
PRODUCED in association with the World Rugby Museum, Twickenham, the press release simply says "A unique celebration of one of the world’s oldest international team sports, packed with never-published-before removable items of rugby memorabilia. Essential reading for every rugby fan." Well yes, but it simply does does not begin to capture the spirit of this beautiful, informative and fascinating dissertation of world rugby from its inception in the mid-1800s right through to modern times. The attention to detail, the replicas of the receipt for the creation of the Calcutta Cup trophy in 1878, the programme for the England Scotland match in 1895, the Official Souvenir guide to the Wallabies British and American Tour 1908-9, the poster for the contribution of rugby union players to the First World War, a ticket to the Wales vs France game 1930, the creation of the British Lions and the Barbarians, alongside a short history of every major rugby playing nation, this is the perfect rugby gift for any fan or player of the perfect sport. It is a treasure.
RUGBY WORLD CUP 2011...
THIS literary guide could not be complete without reference to this year's biggest global rugby event, the 2011 Rugby World Cup. And two publications have been produced about the spectacular event, one from a northern hemisphere perspective, BLACK GOLD, and a second from the land of the long white cloud, BLACK: WHERE IT BELONGS.
THE complete book of the Rugby World Cup 2011 tells the story of the competition from the opening ceremony to the presentation of the cup with details of every game played and photographs of all the action both on and off the field. Legendary broadcaster Ian Robertson sets the scene, and the matches are described by his BBC colleague Alastair Eykyn and leading rugby writer Mick Cleary of the Daily Telegraph. There are comments from players, managers and coaches as the tournament unfolds giving their views on team and individual performances. Over 100 photographs, provided by Getty Images, whose photographs cover every match, recapture the excitement and the emotions of a World Cup and there is a detailed statistical summary at the end of the book.
BLACK: WHERE IT BELONGS by Bob Howitt provides definitive commentary to a stunning array of full colour photographs taken during the course of the rugby news event that grabbed the world’s attention. Top-class action photographs of the games as they unfold, and a selection of colourful spectator photos from around the venues, the opening ceremony, and a shot from the ticker-tape parade in Auckland the day after the Final.
BEWARE OF THE DOG
by Brian Moore
AN autobiography that surprised, intrigued, fascinated and generally just blew me away. The candour, the veracity, and the sheer style which had me page turning at the expense of work was frankly a breath of fresh air.
We have all picked up biographies, or 'autobiographies' which are either ghosted, or worse still, are so tedious to plough through you would think an editor had not been within 50 miles of it, and that half way through you lose the will to live. I can guarantee that this one will not have that effect.
In BEWARE OF THE DOG, Brian Moore -hard man of rugby, lawyer, England and British Lion hooker, nail technician [yes seriously], father, three times a husband, and now rugby commentator for the Beeb and columnist for the Telegraph on all matters that matter to him- has laid his soul bare for the world to see in such a compelling manner that I challenge you not be addicted right from the start.
And it has had the same impact on people all over the globe, winning the William Hill Sports Book Of The Year 2010 and Best Autobiography at the British Sports Book Awards 2011.
Whether you agree with Mooro's views or not, whether he's just far too English for your palate, you will succumb.
Rugby World put it most succinctly, "It hits you like a sledgehammer."
MY ITALIAN FAMILY COOKBOOK
by Lawrence Dallaglio
RIGHT then - do you like to potter around the kitchen? Are you a budding Gordon Ramsay or Antonio Carluccio? If that be the case, this next offering will be right up your street.
Messrs Dallaglio Senior [Vincenzo] and Dallaglio Junior [Lorenzo...or Lawrence to you and me] are passing on their collective years of wisdom from the kitchen to the next generation of little Dallaglios. And thus MY ITALIAN FAMILY COOKBOOK could not be a more apt book for Father's Day.
With Signore Vincenzo Dallaglio spending his working life in the food industry in top class hotels, some of it was bound to rub off on young Lawrence who is an enthusiastic cook. He writes,
"I learned my love of cooking from him [Dad], picking up techniques while sitting on the kitchen counter...Now the baton has been passed to me, and its my turn to show Enzo, Ella and Josie".
And in what fashion...the book may be in conjunction with the family-run Italian food brand, Sacla’, but that has not been made obvious in this artistically laid out cookery book. The recipes are all manageable and easy to follow, made up of authentic ingredients widely available and not requiring you to use pre-bought jars of sauces [although Sacla’ have created a small Dallaglio range of Italian pasta sauces].
As with all good recipe books, the photos are mouth-watering, and the added style of attaching a story to the cookbook gives it a little je ne sais quoi which endears you to publication. The generous smattering of family photos from the rugby pitch to childhood holidays to the Dallaglio kitchen simply adds to the beauty.
This is a delicious addition to any kitchen that is filled with a family that loves to eat.
A FAN'S GUIDE TO WORLD RUGBY
by Adam Hathaway & Daniel Ford
Respected rugby journalist Adam Hathaway and travel expert Daniel Ford have joined forces to create A FAN'S GUIDE TO RUGBY - the ultimate guide to being a rugby tourist across the globe.
From Ellis Park in Johannesburg, scene of Nelson Mandela's emotional handing over of the Webb Ellis Cup to Francois Pienaar in 1995, to Edgeley Park, home of the Sale Sharks in Stockport, every major ground is featured including invaluable information on how to get there, who plays there, which bars are within spitting distance, and a host of other fascinating and entertaining facts.
City guides explore the most interesting things to discover outside of the stadium including an at-a-glance guide to top attractions ranging from the Literary Pub Crawl in Dublin to eating bunny chow on the Golden Mile in Durban.
The book is clear, concise, animated, easy to navigate and simply the perfect pocketbook whether you are a seasoned rugby tourist or a complete rugby virgin...except of course it won't actually fit in your pocket(!)
You cannot even begin to plan your rugby season whether your team is in the Heineken Cup or Super Rugby tournaments, or you are off to the Six Nations or the Rugby Championship [aka Four Nations], without referring to the newest and most useful rugby doctrine.
There's nothing traditional about Brian Moore's style of commentary. Brian Moore made his name, of course, as a take-no-prisoners hooker at the heart of the England rugby team's pack, one of the game's original hard men at a time when rugby was still an amateur sport.
And since his retirement he has earned a reputation as a similarly unforgiving pundit, never afraid to tell it like it is and give an earful to anyone unlucky enough to meet with his disapproval. In this controversial, funny and forthright collection of thoughts and writings, Brian Moore sets the world to rights in his own inimitable fashion. Ranging from the problems with the England rugby team today to the 'soap opera' that is the FA, the feeble state of British tennis and the threats posed by corruption and drug-taking, Brian shares his unique insights and not-so-unique frustrations about the world of sport and beyond. THE THOUGHTS OF CHAIRMAN MOORE is an engaging and outspoken collection of articles from one of our most entertaining commentators.
Just published in paperback, this super read is perfect to have in the bathroom alongside Stephen Fry's Paperweight. And before there is uproar let me borrow from aforementioned Mr Fry to explain that this could be viewed as "a kind of literary guacamole into which a tired and hungry reader may from time to time wish to dip the tortilla chip of his or her curiosity". This is not meant to be read as one would a novel, and having just finished Beware Of The Dog, it is a great relief to have a book that one can read just one or two articles then carry on with life. Except of course when you get to 'Bloodgate'...sit down...get a cup of tea, put your feet up, and read this excellently argued commentary on the rights and wrongs of what happened at Quins.
Written much in the Clarkson-esque style, people the rugby world over will be guffawing and gasping at the actions of big business, politicians, the IRB, footballers, and sport in general!