This year’s World Cup, as I’m sure you know, kicks off in Japan on September 20th. SA will play its first match the following day, against the All Blacks, and hopefully won’t have too much trouble ultimately emerging from a pool that also includes Italy, Namibia and Canada.
But this is a special tournament for South Africa as Siya Kolisi becomes the first black man to captain the Springboks in an international tournament, and as the squad this year includes a record number of players of colour.
On another note, I have a friend whose dad has an entire bookcase dedicated specifically to rugby books. This strikes me as quite an achievement: evidence of a devotion that pays dividends in multiple ways. Sometimes it might seem that sports and books are not especially well suited bedfellows. Indeed, if you’re inclined to resurrect an old macho stereotype, the two can be treated as mutually exclusive – reader or jock, quiet or boisterous etc etc. But actually that’s not true at all. Books are a lasting celebration of the personalities, achievements and love that go into the athletic world: a chance to gain further insight and really look beyond the field. And, as my friend’s dad’s triumphant display demonstrates, they are also passionate, beautiful things that speak of fandom and support every bit as loudly as a painted face (or wherever). So, with that in mind, here are some books to really get the gold and green flowing. Find them all at your local Bargain Books.
The Springbok Opus
This is the definitive book on South African rugby: the ultimate celebration of the team’s history from conflict and social change all the way to World Cup Championship. It’s a gorgeous treasure trove of information, nostalgia and miscellanea crammed with facts, statistics, personalities, incredible artwork and unexpected gems. Best of all, it usually retails for R3,500 (gasps) but Bargain Books is offering it to you for just R750 (much better gasps). It’s absolutely the non plus ultra for Springboks fans – the sort of gift you’ll want to keep for yourself (you’d be justified too).
Siya Kolisi: Against All Odds by Jeremy Daniel
Siya Kolisi’s is a story of great triumphs and significant firsts. Beginning with his origins in a poor Port Elizabeth township, this biography tracks his journey from the wild penurious streets in which he grew up to the prestigious private school that changed his life, from the profound losses he has endured to the prominence he has now achieved. Telling the tale of his path to this singular distinction, author Jeremy Daniel also takes an in depth look at the systems that spot and encourage young sporting talents, takes us through the most important moments of Kolisi’s career and introduces us to the characters that helped shape the rugby star, drawing a detailed and intriguing portrait of a remarkable life of sporting achievement, and of a man who overcame adversity to become a great beacon of hope.
Siya Kolisi: Road to Glory by Jeremy Daniel
Here is Kolisi’s story, told by the same knowledgeable author, specifically for younger readers. It’s a great way for youngsters to become familiar with one of rugby’s most shining lights, and is likely to spark great determination and inspiration in up-and-comers.
Rugby: A DK Guide
Not casting any aspersions, but if there isn’t at least one DK Guide in your household, something may have gone a tad awry. Dorling Kindersley make infallibly brilliant books on all of life’s important topics. Robust, fun, informative and always beautiful, they’re just a glossy injection of awesomeness right into your brain. This one has all the main types of rugby, all the rules, the history, the essential skills, and tons of facts and stats – all delivered with fun and perfect clarity. Everything a young player needs (and plenty that grownups do too). Here’s a look inside:
We also have Springbok Top Trumps (R139), Springbok Playing Cards (R99) and Springbok Monopoly (R879) … because, there’s no real reason you shouldn’t carry the love of one game into another.
All of our sports sections are packed with great rugby reads, and many’s the sports buff that dwells within Bargain Books, so ask a bookseller if there’s more you’re after.
Happy Rugby Reading!