Painstaking history, trivia and stats

2009-12-19 00:00

The SA Rugby Annual 2010 by Duane Heath and Eddie Grieb. (published by SARU and MWP Media). R195.

One of the more remarkable feats of the 2010 rugby season was the piece of history created by Duane Heath, the new editor of the marvellous SA Rugby Annual.

The SA Rugby Annual, for the first time in the 39-year-history of the publication, is in the bookshops in time for Christmas.

The Annual has the reputation of being the most informative rugby yearbook in the international game and is an invaluable reference for anyone who follows the game, whether a spectator, couch supporter, administrator, player or journalist.

The superbly illustrated, full-colour book has grown over the years and the 2010 edition has swelled to 480 pages.

It has captured in detail a remarkable season for South African rugby highlighted by the triumphs of the Springboks, Paul Treu’s world champions sevens squad and the trophy-winning Bulls.

For the first time ever, the 2010 Annual contains the names of every one of the hundreds of players who took to the field in the many official SA Rugby tournaments, ranging from Test matches to the national club championships and Craven Week.

Of particular interest are the pen pictures of the 745 players who played in 231 first-class matches during the year.

Heath and SA Rugby Union statistician Eddie Grieb have even managed to squeeze in details of the Springboks’ November tour and still managed to have the book published in time to catch the Christmas stocking.

These authors deserve their Christmas break.

Springbok Miscellany by Eddie Grieb and Stuart Farmer (Jonathan Ball Publishers, Johannesburg). R135.

For those rugby followers who chase the Springboks, and enjoy the anecdotes and trivia that surround them, Saru statistician Eddie Grieb and Stuart Farmer have produced a delightful book.

Meticulously researched, this small, 167-page book combines statistical records with tales and anecdotes of popular Springboks from the early days to the modern era.

International Rugby Encyclopaedia by Andrew de Klerk (30 Degrees South Publishers, Cape Town). R395.

Andrew de Klerk’s labour of love, a methodically researched and painstakingly compiled history of international rugby, is spread over 572 pages with 400 pictures.

De Klerk’s effort has taken 18 years and he provides information on every international match played in the world game.

De Klerk spent some time as a game ranger at Mala Mala and, according to an impeccable source, he would do his best to escape the clutches of his overseas guests on Saturday afternoons, find a television set and then take copious notes of any Test match being played.

This massive effort, rugby’s version of Wisden, is the first international rugby book of this type published since 1987 and is a remarkable tribute to the dedication and staying power of Andrew de Klerk, a qualified geologist and passionate part-time rugby student.

Pride Restored by Mick Cleary (published by Corinthian Books, London). R280

This inside story of the British Lions tour of South Africa this year was compiled by Daily Telegraph writer Mick Cleary during the African safari. Lions coach Ian Mcgeechan provides comments throughout the book.

The Lions were beaten 2-1, but the tourists were convinced that bad luck and injury in the second Test at Loftus cost them a series victory.

The Springboks, in contrast, believe that the massed substitutions late in the first Test, and coach Peter de Villiers’s decision to field a second-string outfit in the third game at Ellis Park, prevented the South Africans romping to an even more emphatic win.

This book, well illustrated, does provide a British perspective of the series and their Ellis Park victory, as the title suggests, did enable them to go home with their heads at least reasonably high.

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