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Winter Colours: Changing Seasons in World Rugby [Paperback]

Donald McRae
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
RRP: 10.99
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Book Description

5 Jun 2014
Rugby is a sport that means different things to different people around the world. So when award-winning writer Donald McRae set off to take the pulse of the sport soon after the dawn of the professional era, he began to build a portrait of the game that highlighted the contrasts between nations, who may have been united in their love for rugby, but who saw it in very different ways. Featuring in-depth interviews with a range of great players from around the world, including Sean Fitzpatrick, Francois Pienaar and Lawrence Dallaglio among others, Winter Colours is a compelling account of the culture of rugby as seen by its biggest stars - men who also hold dear the sport's very traditions that make it so special. This is a remarkable piece of writing and is sure to be of interest to all who follow the sport at any level.

Product details

  • Paperback: 688 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Ltd (5 Jun 2014)
  • Language: Unknown
  • ISBN-10: 147113539X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1471135392
  • Product Dimensions: 19.2 x 13 x 4.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 852,247 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Amazon Review

Donald McRae visits the training camp of the New Zealand All Blacks near the beginning of this engrossing journey through the personalities, cultures and politics of world rugby. Before he has even introduced us to his legendary hosts, McRae makes sure we understand their violence and power:
A new scrum machine glistened in the sunlight. The huge contraption, so silently monstrous only thirty minutes earlier, had been reduced to a quivering chorus of squeaks and hisses. It had been subjected to a terrible grinding. Feather slivers of foam floated above it, separated from their casing by the battering. You could not miss the deep and wide indentations the three-headed front row had formed in the sighing leather cushions.
Winter Colours is a bravura performance. McRae travels beyond his passion for his native South African Springboks and away from his adopted London home. He appears equally assured in the living rooms of some of the sport's great personalities--Lawrence Dallaglio, Jonah Lomu and James Small, among a long list--or exploring the machinations of its exasperating politicians. He takes us from the sometimes-shocking violence of front-row forwards ("Fitzpatrick took out his mouthguard, spat out three teeth and the slipped the suddenly crimson shield back") to the electric, beautiful running of backs such as Christian Cullen. --Chris Bunting --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.


Simply the best book on rugby union ever written. --The Guardian

A memorable, epic journey through the sport --Sunday Times

This is the best book on rugby to hit the shelves since Stephen Jones's Endless Winter . . . McRae spent a year rubbing shoulders with the world's heroic rugby figures . . . he achieves levels of intimacy that elude many others --The Independent --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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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 A simply wonderful book 29 July 2003
Not simply because it is a book about a sport with which I am obsessed, but because Mcrae is an excellent exponent of the twin pillars of both story-telling and the english language. His personal journey from accepting apartheid to liberal student is as compelling as Fitzpatrick's front-row negotiating skills
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best book on Rugby I have ever read 10 Sep 2001
By A Customer
Donald McRae manages to communicate the specifics of Rugby in every playing country in the world. You come out of it understanding the game better and loving it more than ever.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What an book! 23 Mar 2000
A big thumbs up to the author, Donald McRae. This is one of the best sporting books I have ever read. Every household who have even the slightest passion for the great game should have a copy. If I could I would give it 10 stars.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
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.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars bigfatprop 16 Nov 2006
The blurb states that this is 'the best book on rugby union ever written'. Take out the words 'on rugby union' and you have a more accurate summation. Touching in places, hilarious in others; what other sport would make a man have his finger amputated rather than miss playing against the All Blacks. A true journey into what 'Gods own game' means around the globe, and reaffirms why we picked up the oval ball in the first place.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Buy This Book 1 Sep 2005
By Lazlo
Not only is this the best book I have ever read about sports but
one of the best books I have ever read period. McRae does an excellent job of blending his passion for the sport with first hand accounts from players and fans. As he details the growth and evolution of the sport he also includes his personal story
and how rugby played an important part. As a native
South African living in the United States it's hard keeping up with this great sport. Most people think I'm cazy for staying up
till 3 in the morning to catch a game or just don't understand
what I'm talking about. "Winter Colours" put me back in touch
with this great game. I flew through the book in two days and
was deeply depressed when I finished it. I really enjoyed his insights from the various bastions of world rugby. For example
his section on the French game was fascinating and shed light
on aspects of the game and culture that are difficult to come
by. I highly recommend this book and as many have stated would give it 10 out of 10 if possible.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Rugby brought to you in full glory 23 Aug 1999
By A Customer
Donald McRae has captured the pure essence of Rugby in this book, from the passionate excitement that it can engender to the day-to-day grind that the professional game has produced. It explains the magic and shows again and again how the game is self-distructive. This is a real Rugby fanatics bible and McRae should consider spawning an annual review.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful 28 April 2008
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book told me why I love our game so much. Superbly written, endlessly entertaining. I have only ever re-read 2 books before (The Magus and Birdsong). I am re-ordering Winter Colours as I leant my copy to a friend and I want to re-read. In my book, McRae is in the same league as John Fowles and Sebastion Faulks.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant
I bought this when it was first published about 15 years ago. I thought it was brilliant then and have re-read it regularly since, even if you don't like rugby the first section on... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Lyrical account of late-nineties rugby
Donald McRae can certainly write. In this book he takes a personal journey through rugby in the late-nineties, focusing in particular on his native South Africa and their progress... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Sport Nut
5.0 out of 5 stars Well Written
This is an excellent book for anyone who likes, or follows rugby. The author gives an honest opinion on the game, the players, the styles and just about all the goings on in modern... Read more
Published on 1 Jan 2010 by D. J. Allan
1.0 out of 5 stars Unimpressed
As a die hard rugby loving South African I feel this book was written by an opportunist seeking to make a profit. Read more
Published on 24 April 2006 by C. Michaelides
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply the best Rugby book ever written
The world's greatest players past and present help McRae show why rugby is the greatest sport of all. A must read for all rugby fans.
Published on 29 Nov 1999
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant.
Simply a superb book. A 'must read' for all fans
Published on 22 Nov 1999 by
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding account of the modern rugby player
One of the finest books on sport I've ever read. McRae gets really close to a number of modern rugby stars and writes honestly and thoughtfully about their experiences following... Read more
Published on 20 Oct 1999
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