Which Lions tourist sprang a convict from captivity on a particularly wild night out?
What happened when the World Cup-winner played on after tearing his scrotum?
Why did the 6’7” lock receive praise in the House of Commons from the Prime Minister?
What gave one World Cup winger the nickname ‘the Chiropractor’?
Who had his career ended after assaulting a fan in the stands during a game?
Answers to these questions and much more is to be found in the profiles of the 20 players featured in Hard Men of Rugby (Y Lolfa). These tough and uncompromising sportsmen span the globe and the period from pre-WWI to the present day. They were totally committed to victory, and irrespective of size, situation or opposition, never took a backwards step. Most of the them operating before citing commissioners, slow-motion replays and trial by social media, some of their actions are almost hard to believe. And largely free from the confines of the commitments the modern professional game demands, many were as lively off the pitch as they were fiery on it!
Featuring exclusive interviews with some of the players themselves, insights from former teammates and a foreword from refereeing legend Nigel Owens – who has himself had to deal with the actions of several who have made the list – this lively, engaging and highly readable book brings some of rugby’s craziest moments, biggest characters and most remarkable stories to life.
One of the selection who contributed to the book was World Cup-winner and rugby legend Bakkies Botha, who said, “It’s a real privilege to be included in Hard Men of Rugby. I’ve battled against some of those included and heard some amazing stories about many of the others, so I am honoured to be part of this book.”
Born and bred in South Wales, Luke Upton’s first job was selling match-day lottery tickets for Swansea RFC in those last few glorious years before regional rugby arrived. He now lives in London, where after working in the sports industry for five years he works as a business journalist and editor. He is the author of satirical rugby novel Absolutely Huge (“hilarious” – The Guardian ), also from Y Lolfa, and co-runs @NotGavHenson, the rugby humour Twitter account with over 42,000 followers, including a host of professional rugby players – some tough, others not so much!
“Selecting the players for this book was a real challenge and I’m sure not everyone will agree with who’s included, but that’s all part of the fun! The criteria was that, yes, they had to be tough – and this could include aspects on and off the pitch – but also they had to be very good players. This rules our mindless thugs, cheats or cowards, and those super-tough guys who just weren’t quite up to scratch at the top level of the game. So, look at the list, think of your country of club in the era in which those individuals played and consider if you would have had them in your team. I think the answer would be overwhelmingly ‘yes’,” said Luke.
So pull on your boots, apply your strapping and come face to face with the Phantom Major, the Iron Duke, Car Crash, the Blackpool Tower, the Caveman and the rest of them…