Possibly one of the best sports books that I have had the pleasure to read, Donald McRae offers a superb account of the seismic shifts in global rugby over the past three decades. Focusing primarilly on latter day events, McRae has trawled the rugby world, collating interviews and anecdotes and knitting them into an unmissable read.
From what I have written, one would be forgiven for thinking that I work for McRae or his publisher, but I don't- it really is that good a book. Obviously, if you are an ardent sports hater, then avoid this book like the plague- in fact, what are you doing reading this?! However, those of us to whom sport is life, Winter Colours is a must.
I would be lying if I said that I wasn't initially somewhat daunted by the size of the book purely centered on rugby, but once I got going, it really was hard to put down.
McRae did, however, sometimes use the 'f' word in places where you did not really expect it, but one can forgive him if you realise that he is merely using the word to express his passion upon the subject, namely the apartheid system that he grew up in in South Africa.
His interviews with union players, such as Keith Wood, Josh Kronfeld, Lawrence Dallaglio, and James Small display the fact that McRae's personality is such that he befriended the players and really painted a colourful picture of their lives as proffessional rugby players.
I suppose he could have focused a little more upon the club game in England a little more, but I'm and Englishman, so I would say that. There is also the fact that English rugby is an enigma unto itself, and would possibly have doubled the page count!
The worst part of Winter Colours was finishing it. It thoroughly deserves 5 crowns, and I would recommend the book to any avid rugby fan.