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Size Doesn't Matter: My Rugby Life [Paperback]

Neil Back
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)

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Product details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Milo Books; 2nd Revised edition edition (6 Jan 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1903854121
  • ISBN-13: 978-1903854129
  • Product Dimensions: 20.1 x 12.9 x 2.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 342,645 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Amazon Review

In Size Doesn't Matter, diminutive England rugby union star Neil Back tells the story of his career so far. It's a triumph-over-adversity tale, featuring some full-blooded clouts in the direction of those short-sighted types who frustrated his progress to the top.

An openside flanker who reintroduced forward mobility to the lumpen, though locally successful, England teams of the 90s, Back prompted purists to hail the realisation of Southern Hemisphere-style "15-man rugby". However, it's easy to forget that even as a top-class pro with Leicester, Back was once widely considered too small for the big time. Easy, that is, until you read Back's own account of his wilderness years--when Geoff Cooke and Jack Rowell were picking the England side--and the painstakingly collated testimony of press and fellow professionals that "prove" he should have been in the national 15 all along.

Geoff Cooke and Jack Rowell robbed me of years of international rugby and the honour of representing my country on many more occasions than I have. Not only that ... I found them narrow-minded, unimaginative and downright rude.

With the hefty weight of arguably reasonable recriminations off his chest, Back turns out to be an entertaining chronicler of his career--tours of South Africa with both the British Lions and England, the 1999 World Cup and the Six Nations are all covered in detail. He gives us insights into the workings of winning and losing teams, and straight-talking assessments of the players he has lined up with, and up against. But he is at his most interesting when striking a blow for the "little fella", and targets such as the public school network and the big-money has-been foreign players getting a leg-up at British clubs get short shrift. --Alex Hankin --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


now released in a revised and updated paperback format, this is the story of one of British rugby's greatest-ever forwards. Neil Back has scored more tries than any other member of an English pack. Eulogised by team-mates, feared by opponents and loved by supporters, he is acknowledged as the most dynamic flanker in the world game. In a book that 'hits as hard as one of his tackles' (Daily Mail), Back describes how for years he was ignored by coaches who felt he was too small for international rugby. He describes his single-minded dedication to prove his detractors wrong and records the triumphs and disappointments of British Lions tours, Six Nations campaigns and life with the all-conquering Leicester Tigers. In doing so, he reveals the 'human side to a superhuman player' (Inside Sport). The paperback contains fresh accounts of the Lions tour to South Africa in 2001 - including Back's views on controversial coach Graham Henry - and recent Six Nations championships, including his elevation to the England captaincy. He also gives his views on the current crop of England stars.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best rugby book I have ever read 11 Dec 2000
By A Customer
This is the story of Neil Back's desperate - I mean desperate - battle to have his talent and ability recognised by the England selectors. He's got 35-odd caps, is his country's highest-ever points-scoring forward and the only forward to drop a goal in international football...but he nearly never made it. He should have 70 caps but Jack Rowell and Geoff Cooke ignored him for years. Given his chance by Clive Woodward, he is now a crucial part of the improved Emgland side. A small man with a massive heart, this book tells of his struggles with authority, his fanatical dedication to fitness, his pride at being a British Lion and his love for Leicester Tigers. In an age when money talks louder than most things, Backy turned down a 1million move to Bristol to stay at Welford Road...dedication which saw him turn out at the weekend just a week after receiving 22 stitches in the Test against South Africa. A magnificent man. A magnificent book.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Back gets his revenge 10 Nov 2000
By A Customer
I too am a great supporter of Neil Back, and only treatment of David Gower by messrs Gooch and Stewart supplants the wilful refusal of Geoff Cooke and Jack Rowell to pick him in the face of all evidence to the contrary.
This book provides a fascinating insight not just into Back's struggle to obtain international honours, but also into the modern coaching and training methods employed by him the current England squad. He was clearly a man ahead of his time in terms of his training schedule. As Back says, this current team is not only dominant in Europe, but is closer in world terms to the Austrailian, New Zealand and South African sides with whom previous England teams have struggled to compete on a consistent basis.
Back pulls no punches, but delivers his judgments on players and coaches past and present in a balanced and informative way, reserving particular praise for Ian McGeehan and Jim Telfer who effectively resurrected his international claims on the 1997 Lions tour. I for one remember watching the second Test live and seeing Back take his place at last at the top of the rugby tree. Long may he stay there.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant, believable and awesome! 23 Jan 2004
I have read several rugby books including Martin Johnson, Austin Healey, Jason Leonard and others, which are all very good, but Neils book is simply SUPERB. It is well written and full of amusing stories from his many years with the Tigers, England and the Lions. It is tough to put down and I finished it within 3 days. He also gives you a full on opinion on English rugby, both in the past and present day. I found it quite amazing the commitment that Neil shows towards his profession and the amount of training he does (30 hours per week!!) It is truly a must read for any rugby fan of any club or country from the best No. 7 ever in world rugby.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best rugby book in years. 8 Nov 2000
By A Customer
Is Neil Back the only international sportsman ever to have knocked someone out in the Vatican City's Sistine Chapel? Who knows? But the sort of fighting spirit which saw him deck the England winger Harvey Thorneycroft a decade ago, one of many top stories related in his autobiography Size Doesn't Matter, is much in evidence throughout the book. He needed that bottle and fight - most other guys would have folded in the face of seven years of rejection by successive England managers. Maybe I'm biased. I've always been a massive Backy fan. I've followed his career for the last decade, through those wilderness years when every newspaper and every rugby fan in the country was demanding his inclusion in the England team and when the country's selectors ignored him. Now he is a recognised great - with almost 40 caps, he's England's highest-ever points-scoring forward and the only member of the pack ever to drop a goal in a Test - I and the rest of us who've raved about him for 10 years have every right to feel vindicated. Even warmly smug. So bear all that in mind when I tell you that this is the best book I have read in years. It helps if you're a fan of Neil's and of English rugby in general but even if you're not you'll be gripped by the story of a man who gave up his social life for years to work out in the gym he set up in his mum's attic in a desperate attempt to force himself into the national side! At its heart, Size Doesn't Matter is about his (ultimately successful) fight to overturn the myth that he was too small for the game. At 5ft 10in and 14st he is on the little side but as England and Lions skipper Martin Johnson makes clear in his foreword, Backy is hard and brave and very strong. Lawrence Dallaglio says he's the best player he has played with or against. Read more ›
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