I’m an avid reader of sports biographies and histories, so I was very pleased to get my hands on a copy of Lynn Davies’ new book, “Hard Men of Welsh Rugby. ”
As book titles go, it’s pretty Ronseal, with a great photo of one of the hardest ever to grace the Wales shirt, Graham Price. It’s a rattling good read. I was still in short trousers when many of the subjects of this book were practising their art on the rugby field, but the names will be familiar to all serious followers of Welsh rugby.
This a reference manual relating to giants of the past century or so. It describes the careers of twenty illustrious Welshmen, including all three of the famous Pontypool front row of the 70s.
Whilst it lacks the more exhaustive detail of say, Peter Jackson’s “Lions of Wales,” this would be the perfect concise introduction to the history of Welsh rugby in the second half of the twentieth century for any young rugby fan.
There are some great anecdotes, notably concerning colourful types like Bobby Windsor and Geoff Wheel, along with a sprinkling of remarkable stats relating to the achievements of these heroes. It’s particularly pleasing to see John Bevan made it into the top 20 list of rugby hard men, but J J Williams, who I’ve always maintained was an inferior player in all regards, is absent.
What’s clear from the book is that it is the communities and professions which shaped these players and forged their hardness. Steel and coal loom large in the backgrounds of many of them. However there’s also room for a tough pair of doctors, JPR and Dr Jack, and the Electricity Board’s finest, Delme and Grav.
Get your hands on a copy of this book at Y Lolfa now.