An on-going theme of this blog will be considering books and other writings on Rugby. However it is evident that for some reason Rugby tends to lack the writers that Cricket, Baseball or even Football attract. Is it a case of lacking writers- or is it a case of lacking readers? Perhaps it is more the case of sports publishers tending to lack confidence in the rugby book market, forgetting that many who play, played and support Rugby are actually intelligent, educated, successful people who are capable of reading more deeply than the usual ghosted autobiography-by-numbers. Of course there are many columns, magazines and articles that analyse the on-field game and who should be in or out. Yet too often there tends to be a lack of any attempt to think more deeply about the game.
Two of my favourite sports writers come from the world of cricket: Gideon Haigh and Ed Smith.
Haigh is transplanted Englishman now living and writing in Australia; Smith is an ex-county and England player, now a highly successful writer and journalist. Both think widely and deeply about not only cricket but also sports and indeed wider issues.
Haigh's recent book about Shane Warne was reviewed by Ed Smith in The New Statesman last year:
Reading the review makes me want to read the book; not because I like Shane Warne but because he is such a fascinating character- a failed Dorian Gray by botox; the clay-footed genius- and because I know Haigh will make me think about Warne and cricket in new ways. Yet the review also increased my admiration for Smith and his writing. Smith is one of the top sports writers currently writing- anywhere; yet he writes and thinks more widely than sports. This is perhaps his key- like Haigh he integrates sports as part of a wider consideration of the human condition. Sports is therefore just one of the means we use to think and debate about what it means to be human and live in complex societies.
There is no reason why Rugby could not be written about in the ways Haigh and Smith do about cricket, perhaps we just need to start trying.