The East Terrace - For the rugby football enthusiast

IRB World Rugby Yearbook 2007

IRB Yearbook
IRB World Rugby Yearbook 2007
Published by Vision Sports Publishing

Edited by Paul Morgan and John Griffiths

East Terrace Book of the Month - November 2006

To rugby fans of a certain age the mention of Rothmans Rugby Yearbooks will produce a warm, nostalgic glow for days gone by.

In the era before the internet grouped and classified rugby results, albeit in a very inefficient and awkward manner, the only way to reference the results of tournaments and matches from seemingly everywhere in the rugby world was in the magical pages of those wonderful Rothman rugby annuals with their distinctive yellow and blue spines.

To those of us in the Northern Hemisphere the book was, to all extents and purposes, our Rugby Bible.

Alas, the Rothmans Rugby Union Yearbook eventually passed away and the responsibility of reviewing the global season was taken up by the IRB Yearbook. Collectors who had been gathering the title for the best part of three decades collectively sighed as the continuous stream of austere yellow and blue spines gave way to an ugly, clumsy photo montage that unsettled the balanced look of our bookshelves (or was that just us at The East Terrace?).

Then, suddenly, the yearbook died completely. The IRB yearbook ceased to be published and anyone wishing for a comprehensive review of the annual global rugby season was left as frustrated as a Munster winger waiting for a pass in Thomond Park in January.

Thankfully, Rugby World editor Paul Morgan and legendary statistician John Griffiths have resurrected the title and filled what, for a major sport like rugby, was an inexcusable gap in the market.

They havenít only restarted the series, either. They have injected some much-needed vitality into the book as well. The previous incarnation of the IRB Yearbook, especially the 2000-2001 edition, was a clunky, ugly and uninspired effort.

The 2007 edition, despite being nearly twice the size of earlier versions, is smarter, simpler and cleaner than those that have gone before. Consequently, navigating your way around the plethora of information in the book feels much less like a chore than it had previously and much more like a pleasure.

The 2007 annual has also expanded its coverage, and rightfully so, to encompass details of tournaments played outside of the major nations. Avid rugby followers will appreciate being able to read a comprehensive review of such tournaments as the European Nations Cup and the Pacific nations Cup (even if they mistakenly list the Czech Republic as having scored 131 points against Portugal in the former event).

There is also coverage of the Womenís game in the form of the recent World Cup and the 2006 Six Nations.

The editors have wisely decided to include details and statistics on all twenty of the teams taking part in the 2003 world cup, rather than just focusing on the traditional major eight. Again, enhancing the depth of the title.

But the best addition to the 2007 title is the inclusion of the IRB Emirates Photograph of the Year award.

A glossy colour section features the best images snapped in the past twelve months. The competition is open to both amateur and professionals and hopefully will become a major feature of the book each year. Although one hopes that next yearís title will include more than just the final six images they included this time. It is about time the visual aspect of rugby was given a major platform to shine on and this could be a perfect showcase.

The IRB 2007 Yearbook is a welcome return of an old friend. Vision Sports Publishing and Emirates should be commended for bringing the series back to life and doing it so well.

It is the kind of book that will be appreciated by the rugby connoisseur.