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Inside French Rugby: Confessions of a Kiwi Mercenary Paperback – 1 Jun 2007


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Product details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Awa Press (1 Jun 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0958275017
  • ISBN-13: 978-0958275019
  • Product Dimensions: 2.5 x 15.2 x 22.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 666,248 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Synopsis

John Daniell signed with the French Rugby club Racing in 1997, 'for money and for the love of the game, but mainly for the money'. In this unflinchingly honest and often hilariously funny personal account, John Daniell brilliantly conveys the world of French rugby.

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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By David W. Straight on 24 May 2008
Format: Paperback
John Daniell talks mostly here about a year with the Montpellier team, recently promoted to the first division, but always struggling to avoid relegation to the second division. Daniell is in his middle 30's, and has passed his prime: this will be, in fact, his last year as a professional rugby player. The book dscribes the players, the personalities. the fans, the owners, etc. The top clubs have the largest payrolls, and hire the top professionals--the one downside here is that often these players are called for Cup matches and other tournaments, and so may not be available for the club matches. Everything is taken very seriously.

The book recounts the injuries. "La fourchette" is colloquial for "eye-gouge", a popular and effective tactic in rucks and scrums with only one referee present. Daniell has resorted to la fourchette on occasion himself. The book notes that good sportsmanship is known to the French as "le fairplay"--there is no native French word for the concept. Daniell describes his own injuries over the years--a dozen broken noses, ruptured eardrum, dislocated collarbone, cauliflower ears, and more. He considers himself relatively injury-free compared to most pros. He says that of the 600 professional rugby players in France (many, like himself, are non-French), about 100 are out with injuries at any given time. If you watch rugby DVDs you'll see a lot of heavily-bandaged ears--bites, boots, elbows, etc, have not been kind.

Daniell writes very well, and has a fine self-deprecating sense of humor. He understands that he was never a star, but rather a decent journeyman lock, and there are plenty of younger, fitter players who want his job. Getting to the end of the line--usually in your early- or mid-30's, can often be cruel.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Dr. Dc Walsh on 1 Dec 2008
Format: Paperback
This is a really great book. The reality of being a professional rugby player is excellently described, and the book's setting (in France) adds extra interest, especially if like me you only have a cursory knowledge of French rugby.
I couldn't put this down, and everyone I lent it to thought it was brilliant.
A super book to get a rugby playing Dad/Husband/Boyfriend for Christmas!
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By TJ Birchall on 4 Jan 2011
Format: Paperback
I recently bought and read this book based on some of the reviews I had seen.

This book seemed to get a lot more hype than it was worth. Sure there were some interesting insights to the game but I don't think this compares as well as Jason Robinson's book, Martin Johnson's book or even John Smit's book.
Possibly not being as well know as some of the international players John Daniell could have offered up a bit more about himself rather than some of the fairly safe observations and thoughts.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 1 review
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
la fourchette, and other rugby pleasures 24 May 2008
By David W. Straight - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This is a well-written and always engaging book. John Daniell talks mostly about a year with the Montpellier team, which lingers near the bottom of the first division, and is in danger of relegation to the second divsion. In his 30's, Daniell is over the hill: this is his last year. The book describes the matches, the people and personalities, the fans, the owners, etc. If you're not familiar with rugby union, much may seem rather odd. There are the professional leagues: Montpellier is in the first division--recently promoted from the second division. At the same time, many of the best players may be called upon to play for France, etc, in more important matches--so the top teams may be missing their top pros at any given time. Everything is taken very seriously.

The book recounts the injuries. La fourchette means "eye-gouge"--effective and popular. Daniell himself has employed this trick on occasion. The main thing is not to get caught--but with only one referee and often no ubitiquous TV camera, scrums and rucks offer good opportunities. Daniell notes that good sportsmanship is known to the French as "le fairplay"--there is no native French word for the concept. Daniell describes his own injuries over the years--a dozen broken noses, dislocated collar bone, ruptured eardrum, cauliflower ears, and more--he considers himself relatively injury-free compared to many others. He says that at any given time, out of 600 professional rugby players in France (many, like himself, are non-French), about 100 are out with injuries. If you watch rugby DVDs, heavily bandaged ears--from bites, boots, elbows, etc--are common.

Daniell writes well, and has a fine sense of humor. He pulls no punches about himself. He understands that he was never a star, but rather a decent journeyman lock, and that now he's reached the end of his professional career. There are plenty of younger, stronger, fitter pros fighting for the available positions. He describes a former pro whose boss offered him a job filling ice buckets--at 5% of his professional salary. You need to understand that unlike, say, baseball, basketball, and football, you don't see many active players who are even in their late 30's--it's much more of a young man's sport. Overall, there are elements of the wonderful movie Bull Durham here. You're not going to read about an exciting race for the cup, the pennant, or whatever--like Bull Durham, it's a struggle for survival, and being able to finish with some dignity left. Daniell has enormous talent as a writer and as an observer, and this book exemplifies those talents.
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