The East Terrace - For the rugby football enthusiast

Year of the Tiger: My 2004/05 Season

Year of the Tiger
Year of the Tiger
Published by Vision Sports Publishing

By Lewis Moody and Paul Morgan

With all the fuss and hullabaloo that surrounded the recent diaries of Brian O’Driscoll and Gavin Henson, this season diary from England and Leicester flanker Lewis Moody has sneaked onto the bookshelves under the radar. Moody isn’t as obvious a choice for such a publication as the aforementioned centres are and the book lacks the controversy that benefited their books as well.

However, that isn’t to say it lacks interest. Indeed, it certainly makes for a more entertaining read than O’Driscoll’s volume did and gives a more revealing picture of daily life as a professional player than Henson’s book managed.

At the time of writing this review, Moody is serving a nine-week ban for his part in the England v Samoa flair up in the final game of the autumn internationals. Moody could, perhaps, use his unwanted free time away from the rugby field to promote his book and get it in the public eye. Although he may not want to draw too much attention to some of the paragraphs that may not exactly endear him to the RFU, given his recent behaviour:

‘One young lad from Northampton takes me out as I’m about to play the ball and I absolutely leather him before an almighty fight breaks out and I’m sent to the sin bin. I manage to calm down a little and realise I’ve been a bit crazed. I’ve just been going around trying to hurt people. I’ve not been playing any rugby at all, just hitting people. Outside rugby I’m a fairly placid guy, but once I’m on the pitch I go hell for leather. I become almost psychotic. I actually dream about hitting people on the pitch.’

Moody is a player, as anyone who has ever watched him chase a kick off will attest, that lives on the edge. It is both fascinating and enjoyable to watch such a competitor, but equally frustrating when it all goes that bit too far. However, Moody remains a likeable character as most of his indiscretions seem to stem from over-enthusiasm and exuberance rather any genuine malice or nastiness. His account of his attempt to pep up what he felt was a lacklustre training session with Leicester raises both a chuckle and a groan. It results in skirmish, ironically in the context of his Twickenham red card ordeal, involving a defence session, a couple of the Tuilagi brothers, an effective Martin Johnson punch and a dazed Lewis Moody.

Away from the tales of fisticuffs, one of the book’s stronger points is Moody’s refusal to take himself too seriously and his ability to mock himself for his over-zealous approach to the game.

‘When I first met Josh (Kronfeld) I hated him Well, I was only 20 and this legend was coming in to take my job away. I remember the first time we met we were in the gym doing pre-season fitness tests and I just thought, “I’ll show him!” He did a load of chin-ups. I did a load of chin-ups. He did 20 weighted chin-ups with a 20kg disc. At that time I think I could manage ten reps with ten kilos, but because he’d done that, of course I decided, “Sod it, I’m doing 22kgs!” (much to the amusement and horror of fitness instructor John Duggan). Equally predictably, I managed two reps. Well, two and a half. I could see Josh looking at me as if to say, “Just what are you doing?”

Moody’s love of the game and his general zest for life come across in Year of the Tiger and most rugby readers will appreciate his affection for the sport and his honest attitude to many aspects of the modern game. Similarly, those who find Clive Woodward’s ‘radical’ motivational concepts an irritant will enjoy Moody’s quote on one of the pre Lion tour manoeuvres:

‘The postman delivers a slightly late, but very special Christmas card this morning. It’s from Clive Woodward, who will be coaching the Lions next summer. It’s in the form of six postcards and some pretty gay Lions wristbands, confirming that I’m being considered for the trip. They will remain in their packaging.’

Year of the Tiger is an entertaining read for those wanting an insider's view of the daily grind of the professional circuit. As with all titles of these kinds, it isn’t something you are likely to return to over the years on too many occasions, but it certainly makes for a great stocking filler this Christmas for enthusiastic rugby fans.

In the light of recent events at Twickenham though, Moody will be cringing at the amount of references in the book to his short fuse and all the punches he throws on the field. The publishers, however, won’t mind a bit.