Your emergency shopping list for rugby books this Christmas

The Offside Line has picked out 12 new titles from 2021 which would be excellent additions to any sports fan's library

FOR those who have left it late or just want to find that something extra to gift for a rugby-mad loved one this Christmas, here is the TOL’s list of the dozen rugby books which should be on your shopping list.

  • ‘Rise – My Truth, My Story’ by Siya Kolisi

From impoverished township to leading his nation to World Cup glory, this is the extraordinary story of one man’s rise, against all odds, to reach the pinnacle of his sport.

  • ‘The Silenced’ by Claudio Fava

An extraordinary novel based on interviews with survivors of Argentina’s Dirty War in the seventies, when tens of thousands of protesters disappeared, many never to be found again. Bold, powerful and heartbreaking. The Silenced is a portrait of astonishing courage and defiance, and an examination of the unbreakable bonds of a rugby team in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds. When one of their teammates is assassinated Argentina’s dictatorship government, the Club La Plata take a minute’s silence before their next game. The minute runs to two . . . to three . . . For ten long minutes they stand in furious silence. When the junta learns of this protest, it isn’t long before reprisals begin to be administered to other members of the team. Click HERE to purchase.

  • ‘Fight or Flight: My Life’ by Keith Earls with Tommy Conlon

A native of Limerick city, Earls grew up in one of its most socially disadvantaged housing estates, blighted by crime and violence and he did not escape unscathed from the surrounding fear and trauma visited upon his beloved community. His autobiography tells the story of his long struggle to reconcile the world whence he came with the world opened up by his rugby ability, discussing the inner turmoil that went unseen by teammates, friends and fans.

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  • ‘Legacy of the Lions’ by Gavin Hastings with Pete Burns

Former Lions captain Gavin Hastings draws on his own experiences in the famous red jersey and interviews other greats of the game – including Sam Warburton, Warren Gatland, Paul O’Connell, Brian O’Driscoll, Martin Johnson, Finlay Calder and Sir Ian McGeechan, plus a selection of their illustrious opponents, such as Kieran Read, John Smit and John Eales – to explore how to forge a successful team in this most rarefied of environments, the difficulties they each encountered and what leadership lessons they learned. Click HERE to purchase.

  •  ‘Chasing a Rugby Dream: Impact’ by James look and David Brayley

The second book in a fantastic series of middle-grade novels that combine amazing characters and great rugby drama with insights and tips for young, aspiring players. Click HERE to purchase.

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  • ‘Crossing the Line – The Flag, the Haka and Facing My Life’ by Willie Anderson with Brendan Fanning

The story of the colourful career of former Ireland captain Willie Anderson – the man who ended up in an Argentines jail after trying to steal the national flag during a Penguis tour in 1980, and who faced down the haka in 1989 – told with humour, humility and honest

  • ‘Rugby Has F***ing Laws Not Rules’ by Paul Williams.

The laws of rugby are as extensive as they are confusing, their nuances and interpretations argued over relentlessly by rugby fans around the world and virtually impenetrable to those who are new to the game. This is a humorous and off-beat effort at providing some much needed clarity. Click HERE to purchase.


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  • ‘Too Many Reasons To Live’ by Rob Burrow

The inspirational memoir of one of Rugby League’s true greats, documenting Burrow’s battle with motor neurone disease and the incredible courage and resilience he is showing to keep fighting to the very end.

  • ‘This Is Your Everest’ by Tom English and Pete Burns

The 1997 British & Irish Lions tour to South Africa is one of the most iconic in rugby history. Written off at home and abroad, Martin Johnson’s men were given no hope of success against the world champion Springboks in their own backyard. But a combination of brilliant coaching, astute selections and remarkable players laid the foundations for the touring side’s outstanding attacking mindset and brutal stonewall defence. Click HERE to purchase.

  • ‘The Flying Prince: Alexander Obolensky: The Rugby Hero Who Died Too Young’ by Hugh Godwin

The controversial selection for England of an exiled Russian prince was a huge story in the press in 1936, stirring up xenophobia as well as excitement at the 19-year-old Oxford student’s sheer pace. His later exploits on and off the field would keep his name in the papers, yet Alex was destined to win only four international caps, despite touring with the Lions and appearing for the Barbarians. After joining the RAF to serve his adopted king and country, he died at the controls of a Hurricane in March 1940.

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  • ‘Leadership: Lessons From My Life in Rugby’ by Eddie Jones with Donald McCrae

England coach Eddie Jones discusses what it takes to be a leader in a high performance and high pressure environment and how these lessons can be applied to every walk of life, from coaching the under-9 rugby team to leading a multinational organisation to simply doing your job better.

  • ‘You Can’t Stop The Sun Shining’ by Sonny Bill Williams

Sonny Bill Williams is a once in a generation athlete – a player with immense sporting talent in rugby league, rugby union and boxing. In his remarkable career, he has won World Cups with the All Blacks in 2011 and 2015 and helped the Kiwis reach the 2013 final of the rugby league equivalent.

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About David Barnes 4029 Articles
David has worked as a freelance rugby journalist since 2004 covering every level of the game in Scotland for publications including The Herald/Sunday Herald, The Sunday Times, The Telegraph, The Scotsman/Scotland on Sunday/Evening News, The Daily Record, The Daily Mail/Mail on Sunday and The Sun.