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The Union Game: A Rugby History Hardcover – 9 Sep 1999

2.6 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: BBC Books; 1st ed edition (9 Sept. 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0563551186
  • ISBN-13: 978-0563551188
  • Product Dimensions: 25.4 x 19.7 x 2.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 2.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,746,350 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Amazon Review

This is a must for union fans in Rugby World Cup year.

Sean Smith's glossy BBC publication spans the development of the game from its purer amateur origins to the modern-day professionalism which has threatened to destroy the community spirit it has fostered throughout the years.

But it is more than just a chronicle of the sport's history. This is a thinking person's book, containing reasoned comment, exclusive interviews-- including (just a few) words from All Black giant Jonah Lomu--and a hard-hitting conclusion.

The book's four parts--each of which is given a brief, helpful introduction--examine between them the changing face of the game, with the sport's major playing nations all featured prominently.

Like all other major sports, Union has had more than its fair share of controversy, political interference and in-fighting, which are all reflected here. It meets conflict head on, as the game has done over the years.

But it is not all about battles off the pitch. Legends who have graced the turf of the famous stadiums, plus some of the most memorable matches, are given prominence.

And then there are the photographs, a truly varied and delightful collection of both old and new pictures, including some rare ones out of the archive. Among the best--and probably the most poignant photograph--has to be the one of South African president Nelson Mandela during the emotionally charged 1995 World Cup that was won by the troubled republic on home soil.

All in all, this is a splendid publication which would grace the bookshelves of all sports nuts, not just rugby union fanatics.

If you have not yet seen any of the BBC TV series on the history of the game, which this book accompanies, then this will certainly put you in the picture. --Martine Hunter

From the Publisher

Naturally we love the book, but so does the Press!
Our book, "The Union Game" has had some high praise indeed over the festive period. Mick Cleary from the Daily Telegraph wrote "..Sean Smith just goes for the big picture. But what a canvas he paints. The book is a fattened and well-crafted script of the four-part TV series. It chronicles the history of the game, with all its tawdry twists, its compromises and sell-outs in Vichy, France and apartheid South Africa, its glorious triumphs as well as its fallow moments. The great men are there, too, from the pioneers, All Black Dave Gallaher and Springbok Paul Roos, across the generations to Serge Blanco and David Campese. A fabulous read." Copyright 1999 The Daily Telegraph.

Customer Reviews

2.6 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Very, very good book that manages to inform and entertain in equal measure. Never adopts a soapbox like so many sports historians and appears to me to cover the subject more than adequately. Thoroughly recommended to anyone interested in rugby union.
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By A Customer on 20 Dec. 1999
Format: Hardcover
Brilliant stuff for any serious fan of the game. If you love rugby and want to learn about the history then get this, i read it in a week and will dip in and out for a long time to come.
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Format: Hardcover
A very well researched and written book but unfortunately does not go far enough : Very thorough coverage of the game in UK and France, good coverage of NZ & South Africa, lesser coverage of the game in Australia, and no coverage of the expansion of the game into and growth in some more interesting parts of the world : Italy, Romania, Argentina, Japan (apparently has greatest number of rugby players in the world), Pacific Islands, Cote d'Ivoire etc.
As support to the BBC series it is very good but comes up short if you wish to read about the global game.
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Format: Hardcover
This is a truly execrable book on our magnificent game.

The author has brought all his talent for self publicity and vapidity to the subject. He concentrates on the political where possible to apparently enliven the narrative and seems to have no sense of the true spirit of rugby.

As a writer one could not rate him low enough. The book is crammed with cliches, and lines which make no sense whatsoever when deconstructed. Consider this regarding The Calcutta Cup: "It speaks volumes for the traditions of class prejudice in England and Scotland that the two countries play each year for a trophy made in the Raj." Really? I tell you what's sadder Mr Smith your loose grasp of history and your even looser grasp of the game. The Cup was made by Indian craftsmen in the mid 1870s, who were paid a decent wage for their work which was subsequently celebrated by thousands of people year after year. What has it possibly got to do with 'class prejudice in England and Scotland'?

I tried giving this no stars but that function isn't possible. I'm happy Mr Smith has made a buck writing biographies of celebrities/non-entities, I'm just sorry he was given a commission to write about rugby. Rugby isn't'highbrow' but it is beyond the talents of this author.
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Format: Hardcover
Truly awful.

Poor prose, poor research, poor insight, poor knowledge.

All refracted through an obsession with the class system.

An absolute stinker. I was given a copy, and couldn't get it
out of the house quickly enough
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