The Grudge, by Tom English

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The Independent Culture

No Grand Slam at stake for either England or Scotland in rugby union's Calcutta Cup game at Murrayfield next Saturday, but on 17 March 1990 both sides had all to play for.

Scotland were the underdogs, having squeezed past Ireland by three points and Wales by four; England swept majestically on. Yet the Scots, coached by the cerebral Ian McGeechan and the fearsome Jim Telfer, had other ideas, as did the nation at large, their fervour given added edge by outrage that their country was being used by Maggie Thatcher as a test-bed for the hated Poll Tax.

Tom English has interviewed all the main protagonists to produce a richly textured picture of the build-up, the day itself and the aftermath. But does that game, significant though it was at the time, merit such a forensic reappraisal 20 years on?

On this evidence, the answer is a triumphant yes, as English uses a format pioneered by his brother Alan in books about Munster's famous victory over the All Blacks in 1978 and Ireland's Grand Slam last year to equally gripping effect.

Published by Yellow Jersey in paperback, £12.99

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