This is a story of a rugby man, but it is also the story of a simple man - and by "simple" I mean in the old fashioned,honest, non-complicated sort of way - living his life to it's full potential. This is a good book to give you an insight into the generic old fashioned "rugby man" and the club and sport he inhabits.
At times, you may disagree with what he is saying, but you know he is speaking from his heart.
It deals with the famous Lions tour (but perhaps a bit too lightly) and his mauling at the hands of the IRFU when he stupidly stepped into the hot seat and was promptly fried (yes I do mean fried - it sounded really ugly) one season later.
Unlike some other pulp sporting biographies, he says what he feels about players (but, at the same time, occasionally refuses to name names when it comes to officials) and it is refreshing to hear at least some truth rather than bland spin.
He deals with anti apartheid tours and South Africa and surprisingly, for someone who grew up in the troubles in the north, some of his comments come across as a bit naive. There is no denying the love he has for Africa but I feel that he gives the whole apartheid structure an unnecessary gloss as he fails to see the inequalities and brutalities that went into keeping such a structure alive.
When he deals with the impact of professionalism on rugby and raises his fears for clubs and the game across the country, I know many other rugby men who would express similar views. Personally, I feel he fails to mention the unnecessary changes driven by marketing men (and women) that may end up killing this great game before my son gets a chance to play it.
He even has a go at "modern" banking, which, in the times we now live, seems even more apt!
Finally, although it looks like there was a ghost write named (Peter Bills), it really doesn't feel like he did much to the flow of the book. Personally, I think the book could have done with a lot of tightening up and reorganizing... occasionally it comes across as the happy ramblings of a man at the end of his days, which, while ...., can be a bit annoying.
Bizarrely, at the end, I am left with the feeling that I know the man very well (so the book is successful), but I don't really know what actually happened to him at specific points in his life (so the book is unsuccessful)
As for the man, he is obviously a good, sincere person who's biggest achievement, I believe, will not be victory for the lions but will be the vast number of people who admire and like him.