Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Book cover: "The Art of Coarse Rugby"

  • Title: The Art of Coarse Rugby
  • Secondary title: or Any Number Can Play
  • Additional cover text: "A moving and hilarious book" Spike Hughes
  • Author: Michael Green (1927-1919)
  • About the author: Green was a journalist in the UK who hit it big with this book as a best-seller and went on to write a whole series of The Art of Coarse... books over more than two decades. Other titles covered sailing, golf, drinking, cruising and, err, sex.
  • Illustrator: John Jensen
  • Publisher: Hutchinson of London
  • Year: 11th printing, 1963 (first published in 1960)
  • Pages: 128
  • Format: Hardcover
  • Dust jacket price: 12s 6d net (in UK only)
  • Provenance: Bought for $1 during a day of going to thrift stores in late July
  • First sentence of preface: I do not wish to pay the author's customary tribute to his old college tutor for correcting the proofs of this book, because I have no old college tutor (in fact I haven't even got an old college), and even if I had, I would not have allowed him to touch the proofs.
  • First sentence of book proper: Anyone who plays rubgy very soon finds out there are two sorts. 
  • Last sentence: Eastern Park (3 p.m.): Bagford Vipers 'B' v. Old Rottinghamians Extra B.
  • Random sentence from middle: The referee tried to object but Slasher asked him what Law he was breaking, and he couldn't think of one.
  • Goodreads rating: 3.86 stars (out of 5)
  • Goodreads review: In 2017, Amanda wrote: "Gentle and amusing look at the lower level games of rugby that occur on various windswept fields during the winter months in England. Quick read, some chortles, mild entertainment."
  • Amazon rating: 4.5 stars (out of 5)
  • Amazon review excerpt: In 2000, Neil wrote: "It was one of the funniest books I ever read, but will appeal only to those who play, or are at least familiar with, rugby."
  • About the book's legacy: In a 2014 column for The Rugby Paper, Brendan Gallagher wrote: "Green’s The Art Of Coarse Rugby has run to 23 reprints over the last 50 years – that’s well in excess of 250,000 books – and to this day remains both the template, Bible and excuse for 90 per cent of the rugby playing world." 
Gallagher asked Green about the book's enduring popularity:

“I remain mystified to this day about the book’s success, it came from nowhere and teaches you never to give up in life,” mused Green in between mouthfuls of mince pie as we made ourselves comfortable in his den at Twickenham – the town, not the stadium. “I always wanted to pen the ‘great novel’ – I still do but of course never will – but I wrote a newspaper article for The Observer about the kind of rugby I played and loved and a publisher phoned me up the next week and offered me a few quid to try making a book out of the idea."

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