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Apart form its current publications, John Blake Publishing has a sizeable back list of acclaimed sporting titles. These include biographies of stars such as Roger Federer, WG Grace, Fernando Torres and Frankie Dettori. For more information, visit www.blake.co.uk



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Official Guide to the Rugby World Cup

Release date: 01st August, 2015
Publisher: Carlton Books

List Price: £14.99
Our Price: £3.99
You Save: £11 (73%)
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Four of the books in the rugby bundle prize.

Nothing whets the appetite for a major sporting event more than the appearance of a book promising to preview the forthcoming action and Carlton Books’ Official Tournament Guide to the Rugby World Cup is likely to claim pride of place in many homes as rugby fans familiarise themselves with details of Samoa’s XV or look out for Argentina’s star performer prior to attending matches or watching them on TV.

The Official Tournament Guide is a slick, full-colour preview of rugby’s biggest tournament, as well as being a useful source of pub quiz-style stats and facts.

Former England flanker Neil Back penned Size Doesn’t Matter, an engaging, amusing autobiography, in 2001, but with Dean Eldredge, he’s produced a grittier, considerably more abrasive version in The Death of Rugby, the perfect antidote to some of the blander rugby titles scheduled to be published this month.

Back is particularly scathing of the behaviour of Michael Aland, former owner of The Rugby Football Club and apparently a man of means, who, according to the author, let Back and most others at the club go unpaid for months as he desperately (one assumes) tried to assemble the cash with which to pay them.

We’ve grown disappointingly used to associating professional football with ‘owners’ who are little more than two-bit opportunists; Neil Back’s timely warning reminds us that the trend could be replicated in rugby union.

While Paul Donnelley’s Firsts, Lasts & Onlys doesn’t concentrate solely on the World Cup, his book contains enough rugby trivia to satisfy the most avid oval ball game fan.

We learn of the only player to wear a monocle when playing in international matches, discover the name of the first full back to score a try in an international (in 1934) and find out what was the last rugby union contest to attract more than 100,000 spectators. An early contender for ‘lavatory book of the year’.

Finally, Julian Bennetts’ sumptuously-produced and wonderfully-photographed England Rugby Heroes reminds readers just how far the current crop must travel to rub shoulders with the nation’s true greats. The book’s succinct profiles includes players such as Martin Johnson, Jonny Wilkinson and Jason Leonard, as well as giants of yesteryear including Harry Vassall and Cyril Lowe.

“The story of the best of those who have worn the England shirt,” writes Bill Beaumont in his foreword; they’re depicted here in their full glory.


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