Down & Under, by Dave Hadfield

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The Independent Culture

When it comes to World Cups, rugby league has a long way to go before it can compete with the football equivalent in capturing the imagination of the British public. But the 13-a-side version has its charms, especially if you approach it with an open mind and a well-developed thirst, as did Dave Hadfield of this parish when attending the 2008 tournament in Australia.

While events on the pitch get due mention, the real charm lies in Hadfield's Bill Brysonesque take on the people and places he encounters along the way. His mantra is "Don't let the rugby spoil the trip," which is just as well given England's dismal performances, and he clearly loves Oz.

Whether discoursing on the fine distinctions between hoons, larrikins and bogans in the pantheon of Australian layabouts or musing on the country's unique beer measures, he is an amusing companion, the kind of bloke you'd actively seek out in a pub rather than avoid. Cheers for the book, Dave; the next schooner of grog is on me.

Published in paperback by Scratching Shed, £12.99

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