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The Forbidden Game: The Untold Story of French Rugby League [Hardcover]

Mike Rylance
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)

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Book Description

30 Nov 1999
The phenomenal rise of rugby league in pre-war France and its scandalous obliteration by the collaborationist Vichy government is unique in the annals of sport. Corruption, brutality and shamateurism had plagued the world of orthodox rugby when rugby league made its first appearance across the Channel, bringing with it open professionalism and a new, dynamic sporting spectacle which delighted the public. Only six seasons later le rugby a treize , the troublesome upstart, was wiped out by a conspiracy which counts as one of the most extreme examples of one sport’s hostility towards another. A victim of the shadowy rugby union figures who stalked the newly-opened corridors of power at Vichy, rugby league suffered a scandalous abuse of authority which has had repercussions up to the present day.
The full story of French rugby league’s tragedy is presented in this new edition of a book which has aroused considerable interest and acclaim. Now that an official government enquiry has been conducted into the policies of the Vichy regime, Mike Rylance’s research, conducted over many years, is both a timely testament and a masterly account of one of sport’s great injustices.


Product details

  • Hardcover: 211 pages
  • Publisher: League Publications Ltd (30 Nov 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1901347052
  • ISBN-13: 978-1901347050
  • Product Dimensions: 23.4 x 15.4 x 2.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,153,257 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

More About the Author

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Product Description

About the Author

Mike Rylance writes for League Express, the publication he co-founded in 1990. He is British correspondent for two newspapers in France, writing in French. The author of International Stars of Rugby League, he has contributed to numerous books, magazines and newspapers including Rugby League World and Treize Magazine. He has spoken on discrimination against Rugby League at the European Parliament in Strasbourg and has taken part in radio and television discussions on the subject in Britain and France.

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Customer Reviews

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4.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A remarkable book, and not just for RL fans 26 July 2007
By W. Mann
Format:Hardcover
The French Rugby Union's collusion with the Nazi-backed Vichy Government to ban Rugby League is one of the most shameful episodes in the history of sport, as a review of the cover says.
It all but destroyed a sport that was, at the time, threatening to overtake rugby union in popularity terms, even though league was only introduced to France six years earlier. Had league continued its meteoric rise, the map of world rugby - and I mean both codes - might today be very different.
Yet there is still a sense of denial about what happened to rugby league in France, and even today, the game is discriminated against - try asking the Catalans Dragons about their difficulties sharing a supposedly municipal stadium with union club Perpignan last season.
It's enough to make league men - treizistes in France - angry, very angry. Yet Rylance writes with a controlled passion, presenting the facts with great thoroughness, arguing with clarity, but also providing touches of colour and poetry along the way. Worth singling out is the parallel he draws between French rugby league and the massacre of the Cathars in 13th Century France - for daring to defy the might of the Catholic Church.
It is a shame the book has not come to wider attention. As one other reviewer says, it would make a great film or at least documentary.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Incredible book! 1 Oct 2006
Format:Hardcover
I did not know much about the dark days of French RL, when they were basically hounded out of existence, so this book filled in those gaps in my knowledge. It's an incredibly well researched book, that in parts reads like a thriller. I am surprised no-one has ever got hold of the rights for this book and tried to make a film from it...it is that good.

For any student of the RL game, then this book is a must. It's a book that makes you angry, and then ultimately proud of the sport, as it has survived no matter what has been thrown at it; including the might of the German Army.

Highly reccomended!
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very good book 21 Aug 2000
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
Well written and entertaining book about the history of RL in France. I very much enjoyed reading about the growth of the game dispite all the obstacles put in its path. Having watch the game in the French heartlands its great to see that it still is a intregal part of parts of Southern France.
Well worth buying.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A story to be told... and widespread 25 Dec 2009
Format:Hardcover
What a shame this book was to be written by a british journalist ! Mike Rylance made a tremendous and thorough work that needs to be known by every french supporter of the truth ! Wonderfully written, clear and welle documented, this book places the actual situation of both codes of rugby in France in a historical perspective. Investigations and interviews of first rate witnesses make this document a fair report of events that have been relatively recently rediscovered among french public... And not enough referred to nowadays.
The details about the amount and the value of the french rugby league clubs and association money and properties unduly transferred to rugby union clubs and federation are recorded in the ministry of sports report that has still to be made public.
In the waiting, today"s clubs and federation of rugby league fight for a better part in the french media, not against rugby union but at its side, exactly like football or basketball do.
I tried for almost a year to find and buy this book, whose existence I knew of for many years. Let's hope its french version will be soon re-released in numbers. Thank you Mr Rylance.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must read for all RL fans 10 Jan 2014
Format:Kindle Edition
A must read for all RL fans. What could've been had RL been allowed to develop in France from its inception in the 30's?
It would make a fantastic film however I imagine any attempt to show the establishmen's game in a bad lighr may suffer the same persecution French RL has had to endure.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Having been aware of this book for a while before finally reading it, I was not disappointed in the slightest. Superbly compiled with a well thought out discussion, it chronologically develops the growth of Rugby League in France and its constant struggles and crimes against it. Would recommend it to any sports fan and any individual with an interest in war time French propaganda. Amazing work!
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