Front Up, Rise Up is the story of Connacht’s remarkable journey to becoming the 2016 Pro12 champions. The story goes inside the dressing-room, takes in their unscheduled, week-long, bonding trek to Siberia and back for a European Challenge Cup game, and all the key twists and turns along the way.
It brings us the characters in this Band of Brothers, from the locals such as captain John Muldoon from Portumna to their iconic fans’ favourite Bundee Aki – who like their talismanic coach Pat Lam is a Kiwi from Auckland of Samoan descent – and their Nigerian-born and Dublin-raised match-winner Niyi Adeolokun.
The story takes in the province’s troubled professional history, which had them on the brink of extinction as a professional entity in 2003 and led to Connacht and their supporters marching to the IRFU offices in a successful bid to keep them afloat.
It covers their dethroning of the champions Glasgow in the Sportsground in Galway and their stunning performance in the final against Leinster in Edinburgh. In more than two decades of professional rugby, there has been no story quite like it.
Gerry Thornley has been the rugby correspondent of the Irish Times since 1997 and is a regular contributor and rugby analyst on both television and radio. He is the award winning author of Trevor Brennan: Heart and Soul which won the William Hill Irish Sports Book of the Year in 2007 and the Irish Book Awards Sports Book of the Year in 2008. His other books include the bestselling Ronan O'Gara: Unguarded (2013) and Pulling The Strings with Peter Stringer (2015) which was shortlisted for the Irish Book Awards Sports Book of the Year.