Memoirs of a Rugby-Playing Man: Guts, Glory, and Blood in the World’s Greatest Game

Jay Atkinson. St. Martin’s/Dunne, $25.99 (320p) ISBN 978-0-312-54769-1
In his raucous book, Atkinson (Paradise Road), a rugby-playing fan and a writing professor at Boston University, is betting the aggressive sport will catch on in the U.S. Rugby goes back to 1830s England when a player grabbed the ball and ran through the opposing team, transforming football (the game we call soccer in the U.S.) into a bare-knuckle scrimmage with new rules. Atkinson often talks about himself, but the real passion comes when he writes of the field wars played by the team at the University of Florida, noting, “If all sports are really about war, then rugby is an eighteenth-century epic of bayonet charges and hand-to-hand fighting.” With intermittent nods to his fiction classes withfamed novelist Harry Crews, the brash writer lists his many injuries from the game, but he remains loyal to this sport requiring commitment, skill, and discipline. There is a short stint in jail, drinking and brawls aplenty, and arguments that spill into the streets. Still, Atkinson, wised up from lessons on the rugby field and off, has created a brawny, engaging treat for followers of the sport and the curious. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 02/27/2012
Release date: 04/24/2012
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Open Ebook - 336 pages - 978-1-4299-9061-5
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