14 Best Books About Rugby For Sports Enthusiasts

If you want to learn more about rugby, we have reviewed the best books about rugby for you to check out. Discover our top 14 recommendations in this round-up.

While many people are fans of American football, a similar sport has been played for much longer. That sport is rugby, and there are lots of famous rugby leagues all over the world. There is even a Rugby World Cup that takes place from time to time. Some of the most dominant rugby-playing countries in the world include England (the Rugby Lions) and New Zealand (the All Blacks).

If you are interested in becoming a rugby player, you may want to learn more about this sport by reading a few books. Learn about some of the top sportsbooks about rugby below.

1. Confessions of a Rugby Mercenary, by John Daniell

Confessions of a Rugby Mercenary
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Confessions of a Rugby Mercenary, by John Daniell, is the story of John Daniell, a native of New Zealand who moved to France to play professional rugby. Adjusting to the life of a professional rugby player is not always easy, but it is an all-access tale. It contains a lot of insights into what it is like to play professional rugby, and he openly admits to being a mercenary. He plays in fights through injuries, holding nothing back as he describes the harrowing tale. It is also a beautiful story about life for those playing professional rugby in France during that time.

2. Sevens Heaven, by Ben Ryan

Sevens Heaven: The Beautiful Chaos of Fiji's Olympic Dream
  • Hardcover Book
  • Ryan, Ben (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 320 Pages - 10/01/2019 (Publication Date) - Weidenfeld & Nicolson (Publisher)

Qualifying to play rugby in the Olympics can be a story of absolute chaos. But, that is exactly what happened for Fiji, as the small island nation pursued its Olympic dream. Sevens Heaven, by Ben Ryan, comes from the perspective of Ryan, who took over the team in 2013. Then, he led the rugby sevens not only to the Olympics but also to the gold medal, winning it in Rio in 2016. Fiji is not a nation with a lot of equipment and resources but has some of the world’s most talented players. That ultimately drove them to their success, and you can learn about their journey by checking out the story for yourself.

“The standards you walk by become your standard.”

Sevens Heaven, by Ben Ryan

3. Winning! By Clive Woodward

Winning!
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There are a lot of challenges that come with playing in the Rugby World Cup, let alone winning it, but Winning! By Clive Woodward gives people an insight into what it is like. In 2003, he had the best squad in the world. But, he still had to bring them together, improve their teamwork, and put them in a position to be successful. This is a great book that gives people an insight into what it is like for those looking to create a team that can be successful at the highest level. It can also be a source of inspiration for players and coaches who want to enjoy the same level of success.

“Our success has not been a continual series of victories. We have had several devastating setbacks; how these are handled is the making of a great team… winning does not happen in straight lines. Concentrate on measuring performance and winning will take care of itself.”

Winning! By Clive Woodward

4. Engage: The Fall and Rise of Matt Hampson, by Paul Kimmage

Engage: The Fall and Rise of Matt Hampson
  • Kimmage, Paul (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 416 Pages - 07/24/2012 (Publication Date) - Simon & Schuster UK (Publisher)

If you are looking for a harrowing story about rugby that can also serve as a source of inspiration, then you might be interested in Engage: The Fall and Rise of Matt Hampson by Paul Kimmage. This is a beautiful story told by Hampson, who recounts precisely what happened in that situation. Ultimately, he was engaged in a horrible incident that resulted in him being paralyzed from the neck down. But on the other hand, it has a nice touch of humor and describes an uplifting experience.

“Progress is slow, but progress is progress”

Engage: The Fall and Rise of Matt Hampson, by Paul Kimmage

5. Longy – Sean Long with Nick Appleyard

Longy: The Biography
  • Long, Sean (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 270 Pages - 11/01/2010 (Publication Date) - John Blake (Publisher)

Many people are looking for an easier read, and you might have more luck with Longy – Sean Long with Nick Appleyard. This book is less about rugby and more about what life is like for Sean Long himself. He enjoyed a long career with multiple teams, but the story is about brawls, alcohol, sex, and scandals.

Long shares plenty of anecdotes about his career along the way, and you will get an excellent insight into what life was like for one of the most polarizing players ever to play professional rugby. It is not precisely a chronological play-by-play account of his playing days, but it will give you a lovely backdrop of what was going through his mind at the time.

“When we got back to St Helens, I was incapable of doing interviews or anything like that. I’d had precious little sleep and shitloads of booze – I was a drunker version of Freddie Flintoff after England won the Ashes in 2005!”

Longy – Sean Long with Nick Appleyard

6. No Borders: Playing Rugby for Ireland – Tom English

No Borders: Playing Rugby for Ireland (Behind the Jersey Series)
  • English, Tom (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 384 Pages - 01/08/2019 (Publication Date) - Arena Sport (Publisher)

If you are looking for an entertaining read that includes interviews with hundreds of professional players, then you may want to check No Borders: Playing Rugby for Ireland – Tom English. This is a comprehensive history of what life is like to play Irish rugby, and it focuses on those who are professionally involved. The book explores a wide variety of important topics. It discusses the challenges of fielding a team from Ireland and has a lot of humor and wit behind the stories.

7. Brothers in Arms, by David Beresford

Brothers in Arms
  • Hardcover Book
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 417 Pages - 09/11/2019 (Publication Date) - David Beresford (Publisher)

Brothers in Arms, by David Beresford, is a book that focuses on interviewing stars from a bygone era. He strives to learn more about rugby, culture, cuisine, and what life is like for those who played rugby on the biggest stage in the world. This rare book allows readers to learn about the backdrop of the sport and what takes place behind the scenes. So many people have difficulty envisioning what life is like for these players when they leave the pitch. Now, they have a better opportunity to do so. As a result, this has become one of the best books about rugby of all time.

8. Beware of the Dog – Brian Moore

Beware of the Dog: Rugby's Hard Man Reveals All
  • Moore, Brian (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 352 Pages - 02/01/2011 (Publication Date) - Simon & Schuster UK (Publisher)

Beware of the Dog is another beautiful autobiography about one of the most famous rugby players. Brian Moore is a commentator for the BBC, but he competed internationally for England during his career. He was also known as the hard man on the pitch and frequently the enforcer on the field. Because of the nature of his childhood, it also includes some disturbing tales. That being said, they are central to his life, and that is one of the reasons why Beware of the Dog – Brian Moore has become one of the most popular books about rugby even to this day.

“As a game of violent collisions, it allowed me to fire into rucks and mauls quite legally and yet with as much force as I could muster.”

Beware of the Dog – Brian Moore

9. Legacy, by James Kerr

Legacy
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  • Kerr, James (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 225 Pages - 11/07/2013 (Publication Date) - Constable (Publisher)

One of the best parts about playing rugby is that there are a lot of lessons you can take from the sport and apply to other areas of your life. That is precisely what Legacy, by James Kerr, seeks to do. The All Blacks are among the most famous rugby teams but are far from role models. They have made their fair share of mistakes along the way and remain a controversial team. That being said, there are a lot of positives that people can take from their stories, and their lessons can be applied to a wide variety of areas throughout our lives.

“Personal meaning is the way we connect to a wider team purpose. If our values and beliefs are aligned with the values and beliefs of the organization, then we will work harder towards its success. If not, our individual motivation and purpose will suffer, and so will the organization.”

James Kerr, Legacy

10. Heart and Soul – Trevor Brennan with Gerry Thornley

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Trevor Brennan
  • Brennan Trevor (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 11/27/2022 (Publication Date) - Red Rock Press (Publisher)

Everyone has a slightly different path they take to the world of professional rugby, and Trevor Brennan’s path was undoubtedly that. Everyone can learn about his unusual path in Heart and Soul – Trevor Brennan with Gerry Thornley. Brennan is a player who has a reputation for his utmost honesty on the field, but he was also involved in his fair share of antics off the field. Initially, he was banned for life for attacking a fan. Now, everyone gets a chance to look closely at his journey.

11. This Sporting Life, by David Storey

This Sporting Life: A Novel
  • Storey, David (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 248 Pages - 08/11/2015 (Publication Date) - Open Road Media (Publisher)

This Sporting Life is one of the most influential books about rugby. It tells a fantastic story focusing on characters who are focused on expressing themselves in the physical world. Still, they lack the emotional intelligence they need to be considered complete people. The characters are all professional players in a rugby league situated in a city in Northern England. What ensues is a fantastic story of personal growth that just about everybody can relate to. Furthermore, it uses rugby as the backdrop for the story, making it even easier for people to understand and empathize.

12. My Life and Rugby, by Eddie Jones

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My Life and Rugby: The Autobiography
  • Verhaal van een van de meest meeslepende en unieke figuren in rugby
  • Ultiem rugbyboek voor alle fans van de sport
  • Laat zien wat er nodig is om de beste ter wereld te zijn
  • Hardcover Book
  • Jones, Eddie (Author)

Eddie Jones is one of the most polarizing figures in professional rugby. Some people liked him as the English coach, and others hated him. Regardless, My Life and Rugby clearly shows that he has an incredible level of self-awareness. It is our chronological story of his relationship with his sport. It starts with his upbringing, takes a closer look at his coaching career, and shares many insights into how he became the person he is today. Many people have questions about his decisions during his time as the head coach of the English team, but it also shines a critical light on the World Cup story of the English rugby team itself.

13. Endless Winter: The Inside Story of the Rugby Revolution, by Stephen Jones

Endless Winter: The Inside Story of the Rugby Revolution
  • Jones, Stephen (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 09/22/1994 (Publication Date) - Mainstream Publishing (Publisher)

Rugby has changed a lot during the decade that has been played, and one book that provides some excellent insight into that is called Endless Winter: The Inside Story of the Rugby Revolution by Stephen Jones. This book focuses on the events in 1994, the ensuing tumult, and the new standard it set for rugby in England and worldwide. It is an easy, thrilling read that will act as an excellent recount for those alive during that time and those who were not.

14. The Champion’s Mind, by Jim Afremow

The Champion's Mind: How Great Athletes Think, Train, and Thrive
  • Afremow, Jim (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 288 Pages - 05/12/2015 (Publication Date) - Rodale Books (Publisher)

Sometimes, it is helpful for aspiring athletes to get insight into what a champion’s mind looks like. That is precisely what happens in The Champion’s Mind by Jim Afremow. All rugby players can benefit from this book. They need to learn that all sports are mental before physical, and you have to put yourself in the shoes of a successful athlete if you want to be one for yourself. This book was written by a professional sports psychologist who shares a lot of advice with Olympic athletes. Now, rugby players can benefit from his advice as well.

Looking for more? Check out our guide on how to become a sports writer.

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