The Oval World

9781408831571

Rugby has always been a sport with as much drama off the field as on it. For every thrilling last-minute Jonny Wilkinson drop-goal to win the World Cup or Jonah Lomu rampage down the touchline for a try, there has been a split, a feud or a controversy.

The Oval World is the first full-length history of rugby on a world scale – from its origins in the village-based football games of medieval times up to the globalised sport of the twenty-first century, now played in over 100 countries. It tells the story of how a game played in an obscure English public school became the winter sport of the British Empire, spreading to France, Argentina, Japan and the rest of the world and commanding a global television audience of over four billion for the last World Cup final. It also explores how American football – and other games such as Australian, Canadian and Gaelic football – emerged from their English cousin.

Featuring the great moments in the game’s history and its legendary names – David Duckham, Serge Blanco, Billy Boston and David Campese, alongside Rupert Brooke, King George V, Boris Karloff, Charles de Gaulle and Nelson Mandela – The Oval World investigates just what it is about rugby that enables it to thrive in countries with very different traditions and cultures. This is the definitive world history of a truly global sport.