New and forthcoming
**Shortlisted for the 2018 General Outstanding Sports Book of the Year**
One of the founder members in 1895 of what became the Rugby League, Batley was once a thriving centre of commerce, one of the bustling mill towns in the Heavy Woollen District of West Yorkshire. More than 120 years on, times have changed, even if the town's Victorian buildings remain, but one constant is the importance of the club as the centre of the community. And in 2016, the Batley Bulldogs brought more than their fair share of pride to the town. They were Underdogs, but gave their professional Super League rivals a run for their money in a season that surpassed all expectations.
Given unprecedented access to the team - players, staff and fans - Tony Hannan charts a fascinating year in the life of a lower-league club, of labourers spilling blood and guts on to Batley's notorious sloping pitch before getting bruised bodies up for work on a Monday morning, of hand-to-mouth existence at the unglamorous and gritty end of British sport. And at their centre is the Bulldogs captain Keegan Hirst, the first rugby league player to come out as gay, and inspirational coach John Kear, just two men in the most colourful cast of characters. It was also a year when the town was plunged into tragedy by the brutal murder of local MP Jo Cox, a great supporter of the club.
Underdogs is more than just a book about Batley though. It is the story of northern working-class culture, past and present, and a report from the front-line of a society struggling to find its identity in a changing world.
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.
The revelatory autobiography of a rugby colossus: Paul O'Connell. WINNER OF THE CROSS SPORTS BOOK AWARDS RUGBY BOOK OF THE YEAR
There has never been a rugby player quite like Paul O'Connell. He is synonymous with passion, heart and determination; but he is also the thinking man's rugby player, a legendary student of the game.
As the heartbeat of Munster, British and Irish Lions captain in 2009, and captain of the first Ireland team to defend a Six Nations championship, O'Connell has emerged as perhaps the most beloved of the golden generation of Irish rugby players. In an autobiography as intense as its author, he tells the story of his remarkable career.
'The years of O'Connell and O'Driscoll were as close to a golden age as ever Ireland will get and O'Connell's book tells you how it all happened ... It should be mandatory for every Irish squad member to read O'Connell's book to better understand what it takes to make a team' David Walsh, Sunday Times
'O'Connell has emptied the tank here. ... What has come out ... is a psychological profile that is almost shocking at times in what it reveals about the bloody single-mindedness of the competitive gene' Hilary A. White, Irish Independent
'The intense physicality of his rugby upbringing is an abiding theme ... along with humour, the craic and an extensive knowledge of how teams work' Paul Hayward, Daily Telegraph
'I found The Battle entrancing' Stephen Jones, Sunday Times
'Excellent ... [an] eye-opening account of the never-ending battles he fought' Rugby World
'Revelatory ... Unflinchingly charts his personal evolution ... He is not at all easy on himself' Keith Duggan, Irish Times
As player, manager, and pundit, Donal Lenihan has seen it all in the world of rugby - and done much of it too. A victorious captain of Munster Junior and Senior Schools, he went on to skipper the Ireland team at the inaugural Rugby World Cup in New Zealand in 1987 and was a fixture in the second row for over a decade, winning two Triple Crowns and three Five Nations championships. Selected for three British & Irish Lions tours, he was famous for skippering the unbeaten side nicknamed 'Donal's Doughnuts', before taking charge of both Ireland and the Lions as manager.
From such a stellar position at the heart of the rugby world, Donal Lenihan has a wealth of stories to tell from both on and off the pitch, from raucous antics on tour to the sometimes difficult fellowship of players in a time of Troubles. He delves deeply into Cork and Munster culture and the influence on his career of his family. And as a much-respected analyst, Donal is also not short on voicing his opinion on the rights and wrongs of the modern game, and how the transition from the amateur to the professional era has affected the heart and soul of rugby.
Full of wit, insight and emotional sincerity, this is a rugby book for the ages by a sporting great.
Ben Cohen’s dad didn’t know anything about the sport his young son had taken up, but he was happy to drive him to practice, and was soon helping out at the club. When his business went bankrupt money was tight, but Ben’s hard working parents inspired their son to put his all into rugby.
Then, when Ben was 20, his father intervened in a fight in the nightclub where he worked. He was viciously beaten and one month later he died in hospital. Ben was doing an England press conference at the time, and it was down to coach Clive Woodward to deliver the devastating news. But the ordeal was far from over. The inquest lasted five months before the funeral could be held, and it was a year before the family were in court, facing Peter’s assailants.
Ben put all of the anger and pain from his father’s death into his rugby. Fast and powerful on the wing, he was soon the best in the world in his position and a cornerstone of the England team, culminating in the legendary World Cup win in Sydney in 2003. And yet he always felt like an outsider. Most people didn’t know that Ben is clinically deaf. His sixth sense for the game got him through on the pitch, but off it his poor hearing was often taken for arrogance.
This is an inspirational story of passion and pain; of the highs of achieving your goals, and the grief of losing something you can never get back.
The long-awaited autobiography of Ireland's most beloved rugby player: Peter Stringer
When Peter Stringer played youth rugby, he was so small that people told his parents he shouldn't be allowed on the pitch. Fortunately for Munster and for Ireland, they paid no attention. Over 200 provincial caps and 98 international caps later, Stringer is a legend.
Since making his Munster debut in 1998, his lightning-quick passing, sniping breaks and brave defending have electrified fans - never more so than when he deceived the entire Biarritz team at a scrum to sneak in for the try that brought Munster its first Heineken Cup in 2006. In Ireland's breakthrough season of 2009, his man-of-the-match performance at Murrayfield helped overturn a late deficit en route to the Six Nations Grand Slam.
Now, for the first time, Peter Stringer tells his own story - a story of overcoming the odds, and a story every Irish rugby fan will want to read.
'What gives the publication its grit is the scrum-half's no-holds-barred descriptions of fallings-out with various coaches ... All revelatory stuff' Liam Heagney, Irish Daily Mail
SHORTLISTED FOR RUGBY BOOK OF THE YEAR AT THE BRITISH SPORTS BOOK AWARDS
'When I came into the Ulster team,' Stephen Ferris says with typical candour, 'we were crap'. It was, however, preferable to his day job of paving driveways, and that day in 2005 saw the start of an incredible journey for Ferris, Ulster and Ireland rugby. A Celtic League title in his very first senior season with Ulster. A Grand Slam in 2009, followed by a sensational Lions breakthrough. A starring role in Ireland's greatest World Cup win, over Australia in 2011, when Ferris famously picked up Will Genia and carried him ten yards. And leading Ulster from nowhere to the Heineken Cup final.
Stephen Ferris had an incredible rugby career, tragically ended by ankle injuries so severe they will never properly heal. He is an inspiration to the population of Ulster, an emblem of the sport that serves as such a positive expression of its culture and identity, and earned the respect and admiration of fans across Ireland for his strength, pace, skill and courage. Fearless, funny and full of an incredible array of stories from behind the scenes of Ulster, Ireland and the Lions, this is the must-have rugby book of the year.
Acclaimed world champions in 2003, the England rugby union team came home from the World Cup in New Zealand eight years later to the sound of silence. Their rugby was uninspiring and their reputation in tatters. Stuart Lancaster - former burger-flipper, PE teacher and the novice Saxons coach - was tasked with turning a failing team around.
The transformation was astounding. Now Lancaster's side has the work ethic, humility and resolve to compare with that World Cup-winning team. Much of this is down to their coach, but with so little international experience, how did he bring about this renewal?
Part biography, part examination of leadership, The House of Lancaster pulls apart the England rugby machine and looks at how it has been put together. Filled with exclusive interviews from the leading protagonists, players and coaches, as well as containing unprecedented access to Lancaster's methods, The House of Lancaster shows how the vision, personality and leaderships skills of one driven man can turn a team into genuine world-beaters.
With a foreword from Sir Ian McGeechan OBE
**WINNER British Sports Book Awards SPORTS BOOK OF THE YEAR**
**Shortlisted for the William Hill Sports Book of the Year Award**
Gareth Thomas had it all. He was a national hero, a sporting icon. He was a leader of men, captain of Wales and the British Lions. To him, rugby was an expression of cultural identity, a sacred code. It was no mere ball game. It gave him everything, except the freedom to be himself.
This is the story of a man with a secret that was slowly killing him. Something that might devastate not only his own life but the lives of his wife, family, friends and teammates. The only place where he could find any refuge from the pain and guilt of the lie he was living was on the pitch, playing the sport he loved. But all his success didn’t make the strain of hiding who he really was go away. His fear that telling the truth about his sexuality would lose him everything he loved almost sent him over the edge.
The deceit ended when Gareth became the world’s most prominent athlete to come out as a gay man. His gesture has strengthened strangers, and given him a fresh perspective. Gareth’s inspiring and moving story transcends the world of sport to tell a universal truth about feeling like an outsider, and facing up to who you really are.
The bestselling autobiography of the greatest rugby player of our time: Brian O'Driscoll.
Since 1999, when he made his international debut, there has been no greater player in world rugby than Brian O'Driscoll. In 2010 Rugby World magazine named him its world player of the decade - and since then the legend has only grown.
Now, at the end of his amazing career - which culminated in fairy-tale fashion with Ireland's victory in the 2014 Six Nations championship - he tells his own story. Honest, gritty and thoughtful, Brian O'Driscoll's Autobiography is not just an essential sports book. It is an essential book about family, friends, hard work, courage and imagination.
'Honest, charming and revealing - a thoroughly good read' Rugby World
'A thoroughly enjoyable read ... After reading The Test I warmed even more to O'Driscoll as a player and a man. He stood for a new ethos in Irish sport that refused to accept mediocrity or glorious failure' Fergal Keane, Irish Times
'O'Driscoll's honesty ... takes the reader to a place they simply have not been before' Vincent Hogan, Irish Independent
'A must-read insight into the life and mind of Ireland's greatest rugby player' Irish Mail on Sunday
'There are fascinating insights into the lengths he was willing to go to perform at the highest level' Sunday Business Post
Ronan O'Gara has been at the heart of Munster and Irish rugby for the past fifteen years. Now, as he comes to the end of a glittering playing career, it is time for him to reflect on those many successes and occasional failures with the straight-talking attitude that has become his trademark. Never one to shy away from the truth, the result is Ronan O'Gara: Unguarded.
Packed full of anecdotes and analysis of the teammates O'Gara has been proud to share the shirt with, and of the coaches he has played under - often in controversial circumstances - this is the definitive record of an era when Munster rose to triumph in Europe, and Ireland to win the Grand Slam, before crashing down to earth again. It is simply the must-have rugby book of the year.
Johnny Sexton - the man who pulled the strings for the Lions - gives an intimate insight into the rugby life in Becoming a Lion.
With three Heineken Cups and one British and Irish Lions tour victory under his belt, Johnny Sexton is by some distance the leading fly-half in the northern hemisphere. Over the course of the Lions' first victorious Test series in sixteen years, Sexton was the man pulling the strings. His try in the third test was the decisive blow, and his joyous celebrations after scoring were echoed in homes across Britain and Ireland.
Becoming a Lion is an intimate portrait of life at the highest levels of the professional game - at Leinster, with Ireland, and on tour with the Lions.
'Bracing and fascinating in equal measure' Malachy Clerkin, Irish Times
'Riveting ... Opens a remarkable window into the stresses, hurts and insecurities of a professional life in rugby' Vincent Hogan, Irish Independent
'Captures all the jagged edges that make Sexton one of Irish sport's most compelling characters' Sunday Times
'Sets a great benchmark for sports autobiographies, given that it is so honest' Matt Cooper, Today FM
'Engrossing' Rugby World Ireland
'If you crave an insight into the life of a professional rugby player ... Becoming a Lion is a must' Donal Lenihan, Irish Examiner
'Intensely revealing' Irish Daily Mail