Bookies' favourites among front-runners for Rugby Book of the Year prize


The Rugby Book of the Year category of the British Sports Book Awards 2012 includes two of the favourites to win the overall Book of the Year award, which will be decided by a public vote.

Engage: The Fall and Rise of Matt Hampson, by Paul Kimmage, is 4-1 with Ladbrokes, a long-standing supporter of the annual awards, who rate Racing Through the Dark: The Fall and Rise of David Millar as favourite at 3-1.

Jonny Wilkinson's autobiography 'Jonny' is priced at 5-1 alongside William Hill Sports Book of the Year winner A Life Too Short: The Tragedy of Robert Enke.

Gary Neville's Red: My Autobiography is 6-1, with The Breaks Are Off, by Graeme Swann, 7-1.

Today The Sports Bookshelf outlines the six titles shortlisted for Rugby Book of the Year as the build-up to the announcement of the winners continues.

These will be revealed at a black tie dinner at The Savoy Hotel in London next Monday, May 21, when Nick Hornby will also be presented with an award for ‘Outstanding Contribution to Sports Writing’ some 20 years on from the publication of ‘Fever Pitch’.

The winners from the 10 categories will then be entered into an online public vote to find the overall British Sports Book of the Year. Each winning title will be promoted in a media and retail campaign in the run up to Father’s Day. The public vote will held on the official website – – the overall winner will be announced on June 11.

Look out for a run-down of the contenders in the Motorsports Book of the Year, the Illustrated Book of the Year and the Best Publicity Campaign.

Follow these links for a detailed review of the other shortlists:

Autobiography/Biography of the Year
Cricket Book of the Year
Football Book of the Year
Golf Book of the Year
Horse Racing Book of the Year
New Writer of the Year

The full shortlists

These are the contenders for Rugby Book of the Year

1 -- Engage: The Fall and Rise of Matt Hampson Book

Author: Paul Kimmage
Published by: Simon & Schuster

Matt Hampson, a 20-year-old tight-head prop from the Leicester Tigers club, was taking part in an England Under-21 training session when he suffered a freak accident that left him paralysed from the neck down.  Journalist Paul Kimmage visited Hampson as he recuperated, and wrote an article that won him the Sports Journalists’ Association interviewer of the year award. The friendship they struck up led Kimmage to tell Hampson’s full story, in all its harrowing detail, from the build-up to the fateful day, the drama of the accident itself, the incredibly long rehabilitation, and his struggle to adjust to what passes for him as a normal life.

2 -- Higgy: Matches Microphones and MS

Author: Alastair Hignell
Published by: Bloomsbury

Alastair Hignall had three highly successful careers in sport: as an England rugby player, a county cricketer and a sports broadcaster. A much-loved figure in the sporting world, he retired after being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.  Higgy's has been a tough journey, and his story is a fascinating example of strength and determination when faced with adversity. His story is about setbacks and triumphs, about making the shift from the athletic struggles of sport to the struggle of performing everyday tasks, the genuine and emotional story of how a highly successful sportsman faced up to a devastating illness and in so doing became an inspiration to others.

3 -- Joking Apart: My Autobiography

Author: Donncha O'Callaghan
Published by:  Transworld Ireland

Donncha O’Callaghan is one of Ireland’s leading international rugby players and a stalwart of the Munster side. But his success did not come easy. Although he became a well known player with a larger-than-life reputation, his long battle to make a breakthrough at the highest level is largely unknown. In this honest and revealing autobiography, Donncha talks in detail about the personal setbacks and disappointments at Munster and the unconventional ways he dealt with the frustration of his struggle to make the team in his early 20s. Joking Apart is a compelling read that shows how this apparent ‘joker in the pack’ has a very serious and intensely professional approach to the sport.

4 -- Jonny: My Autobiography

Author: Jonny Wilkinson
Published by: Headline

Written in collaboration with Times journalist Owen Slot, Wilkinson's autobiography takes readers on a candidly personal voyage into the farthest reaches of his complex character, setting out the inner torment that has accompanied much of his success as well as the long periods of physical injury.  It reveals the fears that have dogged him since childhood and tipped him sometimes into bouts of depression and which have made the goals of fulfilment and true happiness almost impossible to attain.   A gripping examination of the human psyche that throws up many thoughts and experiences that will be uncomfortably familiar to others haunted by self-doubt.

5 -- Southern Comfort: The Story of Borders Rugby

Author:  Neil Drysdale
Published by: Birlinn Ltd

For the last 130 years, the Borders has produced a long line of international class rugby players, out of proportion to the area's small population, and has long been considered the heartland of Scottish rugby.  Featuring interviews with Doddie Weir, Craig Chalmers, Peter and Michael Dods, John Jeffrey and many others, Neil Drysdale uncovers the passion for rugby in the Borders, and shows how the game in the region has been a microcosm of Scottish rugby as a whole, with the two Grand Slams of 1984 and 1990 built around men from the South of Scotland.  Southern Comfort reveals the hunger, humour, comradeship and local rivalries which fuels the region's love for rugby.

6 -- The Treasures of International Rugby Union

Author: Richard Bath
Published by: Carlton Books

A celebration of one of the world's oldest international team sports (pre-dating international football by a year), covering the development of the game from the moment William Webb Ellis is reputed to have picked up a ball and run with it during a football match at Rugby School in 1823 to the ultra professional game of today and all that happened in between. It focuses on the sport's biggest nations, provides a history of some of rugby's quirkier aspects - such as the British and Irish Lions and Barbarians, includes a section on sevens rugby, and contains a report on every Rugby World Cup.


Engage: a harrowing story brilliantly told
Jonny: a fresh tour of a tortured soul



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