Books for rugby league – must read

If you’re bored at a loop fixture between now and the end of the season, perhaps consider taking one of these titles to a game.

The Forbidden Game (Mike Rylance)

If you ever wondered why rugby league fans are ferociously protective of their sport, then this book goes some way to explaining that. It documents the scandalous obliteration of the 13-man code in France by the Vichy government, with some fascinating and shocking research providing a reminder of just why some older fans of the game still cannot forgive their union counterparts.

Underdogs (Tony Hannan)

Not only is he a good friend of us at Love Rugby League, Tony Hannan is also responsible for a belting book all about Batley. He spent a season shadowing John Kear’s men in what happened to be an incredible season as they made it to The Qualifiers. For those that are dismissive of the “small northern towns” which have been the cornerstone of the sport since its inception (and indeed were responsible for its inception), then this book reflects on just how significant the sport is to the communities it serves, despite the ever changing landscape of those communities.

Made for Rugby (Barrie McDermott and Peter Smith)

The good thing about Barrie McDermott’s autobiography is he’s not interrupted by Stuart Cummings giving his insight about some incident or another. In Barrie’s case, it’s probably a good job. The likeable TV pundit (amongst other things) tells all about his early life, the tragic accident that saw him lose an eye, early trouble in his life and then a distinguished career at the top of the game. This is one of the best sports’ autobiographies I have ever read.

The Rugby League World Cup: The Illustrated History of Rugby’s Oldest Global Tournament (Malcolm Andrews)

A decade out of date now, as it only runs until the end of the 2008 World Cup, but history doesn’t change, and this book documents every edition of the Rugby League World Cup. With some interesting tales and matches, as well as comprehensive statistics, this is a must for any rugby league and stats boffin. And it’s a nice reminder that rugby league did have the first ever Rugby World Cup, despite union’s attempts to take the name off the sport in recent years.

Tough Season (Chris Berry)

Now we haven’t read this one ourselves yet, but we’ve had a few press releases about it so felt right to mention it. Hull KR fan Chris Berry has written a crime thriller which is apparently the first one ever to feature rugby league. It follows the fictional character Greg Duggan in a season for his Hopton Town club, featuring ownership struggles and naturally a complicated love life. Available for £7.99.

No Helmets Required: The remarkable story of the American All Stars

No list of rugby league books these days is complete without Gavin Willacy’s well-researched and fascinating insight in to an all-star team from America of all places. In the 1950s, the team went toe-to-toe with Australia, New Zealand and France, but attempts to establish the sport in the US failed spectacularly (heard that one before). It was released ahead of the 2013 World Cup, during which the USA side won many friends for a brave run to the quarter-finals and eventual defeat to Australia.

We’re not sure about this one though…

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