When I was at Liverpool University, I joined the Women’s Rugby Union Team and had an amazing time with the girls. It started a love of rugby, primarily international rugby. Sale Sharks would have been our closest local union team but still a distance. We were sponsored by Walkabout – an Aussie themed chain bar – and every England international game we got to sit in there with our discounted food and beer and watch on their big screens the games. I love rugby because I chose it. It’s not like my love of Burnley FC which is so tied in with my dad in memories and emotions. This is something I found for myself with some great friends and in that way it was special. Eddie Jones came to Lingham’s bookshop on Wirral in 2019 promoting the book and I and 499 other people bought tickets to see him. We got a copy of the book too. Here is my view on it.
Giving this a go! pic.twitter.com/kXANlxTUAL
— Megan Pollard (@m3gjopol) April 22, 2020
Eddie Jones is from a Japanese mother and Aussie father, brought up in Sydney. This book follows his life in rugby.
Caveat – I worked in sport publishing for 3.5 years. I have read a lot of sport books. This has to be one of my favourites. Don McRae is an excellent writer and he is the ghost writer. The Guardian Sport Features writer, he is in a very privileged role as he gets to interview some of the most interesting people in sport. From Tatenda Taibu, who had to flee his homeland of Zimbabwe due to threats from the government, to paralympian Ellie Simmonds and then football legend Gary Lineker. Having Don on board is one of the main reasons this book is so good.
No matter how good the story, if the writer is bad it will be bad. On the reverse, no matter how good the writer, if the story is boring… well so is the book. Thankfully, Eddie Jones manages to get himself in enough interesting situations to make this book great. Jones is very honest, showing why he was never good enough to play for the Wallabies even though it was his greatest ambition. I thought it interesting that he was also a teacher and eventual headmaster and he had to choose between education or rugby coaching. Thankfully for England (and Japan) he chose rugby. You can see though that the same effort and determination he puts into rugby he put into his teaching, going in early and staying late to make the new school a success against an education board which seemed dead set on making it fail.
Whilst I appreciate Eddie isn’t going to start slagging off England’s hierarchy as he is still employed by them, he is very frank and honest about his time at some of the other rugby clubs and countries. He shows his dislike for the man above him at the Wallabies and how his own media mistakes cost him certain things. In his own assessment he is clearly his own biggest critic and when looking into the rugby, you get a great insight. My only criticism is that there is not much on his family etc. I found the delve into the USA treatment of the Japanese during the 2nd World War really interesting and wondered on the racism he and his family endured. Whilst everything is touched upon, the level of insight shown in rugby isn’t really shown on his own personal life. However, it is a minor gripe and on something I quite like but not many autobiographies discuss (Julie Andrews’ autobiography I also have the same issue).
All together, if you are interested in rugby this should be on your ‘to read’ pile. 9/10.
— Megan Pollard (@m3gjopol) April 25, 2020