The East Terrace - For the rugby football enthusiast

A Game for Hooligans: The History of Rugby Union

A Game for Hooligans
A Game for Hooligans: The History of Rugby Union
Published by Mainstream Publishing

Written by Huw Richards

East Terrace Book of the Year 2006

Book of the Month - December 2006


Huw Richard’s has an excellent track record with historical rugby books. His last publication was the sublime ‘Dragons and All Blacks’; rightly shortlisted for the prestigious William Hill Sportsbook of the Year Award.

A Game for Hooligans is, surprisingly, the first major English-language version of the game’s history that has been published since the sport went professional in 1995.

It has been worth the wait.

Richards effortlessly blends social history, anecdotes, politics, statistics and a wealth of information on the game’s origins and development into a seamless, enriching text.

Even knowledgeable students of the game’s history will probably find plenty here they haven’t encountered before.

Furthermore, one of the book’s strongest qualities is that it encompasses rugby history outside of the traditional playing nations. There are references to the origins and growth of the game in such places as, amongst others, Georgia, Germany, Russia and the former Czechoslovakia.

Indeed, the tantalising glimpse that Richards provides into rugby’s history in these locations makes the reader yearn for more on rugby in these ‘exotic’ parts; so rare it is to find well written histories for these nations.

One related theme which reoccurs throughout the title – and it may come as little surprise to followers of the modern game – is the repeated failure (often downright refusal) of the International Rugby Board to help the game grow globally.

Arrogance, stubbornness and incompetence have repeatedly emanated from the Dublin based institution throughout its history. The IRB seemingly at times did everything in could to limit the spread of the oval ball.

When these actions (or in some case, inaction) are put together in one title for the leader to reflect on it is more than a little depressing for the passionate rugby fan.

Richards has produced another exquisite book in Hooligans and it deserves its place on the shelf of all rugby lovers.

It says something for the book’s worth that one of the only complaints one can have is that it isn’t long enough.

A Game for Hooligans is a worthy winner of our 2006 Book of the Year.