Six books every rugby league fan should read

In the life of Rugby League, so many people have so many stories to tell, whether that be a biography or an autobiography.

Sometimes those stories get put on the backburner, never to get told, but other times those stories get put onto paper, for the rest of the world to read.

Here are six books that every rugby league fan should read.

The Forbidden Game

Author Mike Rylance travels back to pre-war France, where the 13-man code is thriving, only to be practically destroyed by a corrupt Vichy government during World War Two. The 15-a-side supporters use their influence in the new pro-German, collaborationist to almost wipe rugby league from the face of L’Hexagon in favour of union. It truly is a remarkable read of a true narrative of which repercussions are still being felt today.

Andrew Johns: The Two of Me

A true masterpiece whose title says it all; Newcastle Knights hero Andrew Johns details his life through the ups and downs of his career, speaking openly and honestly about how he suffered off the field, despite being one of the most impressive rugby league players ever on it. Of course, who could forget Johns’ individual brilliance to carve out an opening for Darren Albert to secure Newcastle’s 1997 Grand Final victory with just six seconds remaining?

Longy: Booze, Brawls, S**x and Scandal

Sean Long’s career was interesting to say the least and he bared all in an autobiography released in 2009. The three-time Lance Todd trophy winner did some amazing things on the field and some incredibly ridiculous things off it too. Ex-halfback Long doesn’t hold back, detailing the three-month ban for betting on St Helens to lose against Bradford, walking out of on the 2006 Tri-Nations tour which signalled the end of his international career and exploring every avenue detailed in the title. A wild book by a wild player.

The Bald Truth: My Life in the World’s Hardest Sport

Keith Senior had a reputation on the rugby field for his toughness and tenacity with his autobiography detailing his four Grand Final victories with Leeds as well as the incredible 1998 Challenge Cup success with Sheffield. However, The Bald Truth delves deeper, addressing Senior’s off-field rise from humble beginnings to world star as well as documenting a difficult personal life that saw his broken marriage plastered all over the national press.

Rugby League: A People’s History

Tony Collins continues to make seriously impressive must-reads and his 2020 classic is no different; Rugby League: A People’s History charters the game from its creation in 1895 to the sport’s 125th anniversary. But, Collins’ spectacular focuses on the grassroots right through to the professional and amateur stars, bringing in every aspect of the north of England’s societal history and explaining why such a sport took off in such turbulent times.

Rob Burrow: Too Many Reasons to Live

It will be a real tearjerker, released in August of this year, and rugby league fans will probably make this book one of the most popular of all time in the sport. After eight Super League titles and two Challenge Cups, pocket-rocket Rob Burrow was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disaese in December 2019. Now, though, a powerful memoir of his battle against the disease has been written and is available for pre-order.

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