Today's Runners And Writers: The Six Shortlisted For The William Hill Sports Book Of The Year
WINTER COLOURS BY DONALD McRAE (MAINSTREAM PUBLISHING, pounds 16.99)
Wednesday 25 November 1998
If you wear glasses or contact lenses bring along a spare pair, because the chances are they will be worn out by your most important item of luggage - Donald McRae's Winter Colours - Changing Seasons in World Rugby.
This grand oeuvre is the best book on rugby to hit the shelves since Stephen Jones' Endless Winter.
What is perhaps most endearing about this intensely written work is that it can irritate as well as stimulate. McRae, who won the William Hill Award in 1996, spent a year rubbing shoulders with the world's heroic rugby figures. Not just rubbing shoulders, but providing his own for them to cry on. He achieves levels of intimacy that elude many others.
The autobiographical passages covering his early life as a liberal white youth in racist-ravaged South Africa reveals someone torn desperately between his love for sport and his country, and the contempt in which he holds the hardline Boers. The Afrikaaners, traditional butts of liberal humour, turn into heroes when they pull on the green and gold. But throughout the account of his early life in the Republic there is the underlying impression that McRae and his friends wanted to be accepted by the Boetjies (little farmers).
And ultimately, as the odyssey through Tests and Super 12 rugby around the globe unfolds, there is the unshakeable impression that McRae has resolved the dilemma of his personal conflict. He can, and does, straddle the horns of hero worship and contempt, albeit from afar.
The vehicle of this epic is the charismatic Springbok wing James Small, who emerges as sympathetic, with (amazingly) a sense of humour and depth of feeling, certainly not evident when he sports the green and gold.
Mr McRae has written another winner, whatever the judges decide.
Latest in Sport
William Carvalho to Arsenal? Gunners make new enquiry for £35m rated midfielder
Manchester United transfer news: More signings expected, indicates Ed Woodward
WWE Battleground 2014 results: John Cena and The Miz are the big winners on a night to forget in Tampa, Florida
Liverpool transfer news: Loic Remy, Dejan Lovren and Divock Origi on verge of Anfield moves
Manchester City transfer news: Completed summer deals
- 1 Husband creates spreadsheet detailing wife's 'excuses' for turning down sex
- 2 Saneie Masilela, 9, marries Helen Shabangu, 53 years his senior, for the second time
- 3 UK pirates will get four warning letters a year
- 4 Why I'm on the brink of burning my Israeli passport
- 5 Is Gideon Levy the most hated man in Israel or just the most heroic?
Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 crash: 'Nine Britons, 23 Americans and 80 children' feared dead after Boeing passenger jet is 'shot down' near Ukraine-Russia border
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Vladimir Putin is given 'one last chance' to end hostilities in Ukraine
The 'scroungers’ fight back: The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Ukrainian military jet was flying close to passenger plane before it was shot down, says Russian officer
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: victims’ bodies bundled in black bags and loaded onto trains
£55 - £70K OTE £130k Plus Car: Charter Selection: Major multi-million pound la...
£40000 - £52000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Drupal developer v...
£30000 - £40000 Per Annum plus benefits/bonus package: The Green Recruitment C...
£60- £70K OTE £120k Plus Car: Charter Selection: Major multi-million pound lan...