By Jay Atkinson
Thomas Dunne Books, $25.99, 325 pages

Rugby, a game originating at Rugby College in England, is a violent game played with very little or no pads against fellow players with the same goal of beating each other into submission. As a player for 17 years this reviewer is close to this subject. A saying amongst players is that if you want to go to the post game drink up you need to play in the match. When you get two or more players together the topic of what injuries have been inflicted upon their bodies always comes up. Author, Jay Atkinson is no different.

“Years of high-pitched competition have, of course, led to a few injuries: torn cartilage in my knee, broken cheekbone and eye sockets, a detached retina, cracked ribs, compressed disks in my neck, a ruptured hamstring, root canals in all my front teeth, torn ligaments in both ankles, and dozens of stitches, bruises and blisters.”

This is a story about a gifted player that has played rugby most of his life and toured the world in doing so. The rugby culture is one that binds players together as friends and teammates. Most matches are followed by a drink up where the two teams get together and the home provides a post game meal and a few beers. Friendships can last a lifetime. Players such as Mr. Atkinson can move between teams and play for clubs whenever and wherever the opportunity presents itself. Players and non-players alike will enjoy his journeys as a writer, teacher and rugby player. For those that have little knowledge of rugby and how the game is played this book is a must read.

Reviewed by Brian Taylor