Legends in Black by Dr Tom Johnson
Rugby is what made our nation. Sure, there was that thing in Gallipoli, but for true ongoing passion and national pride, you can’t beat the All Blacks. It’s our ‘go to’ game. Nothing else can even compare to it when it comes to creating national pride and national unification. The America’s Cup came close, but did we actually ever think we could participate in it? No, yachting is a sport for the super rich only, case closed.
Rugby on the other hand is a sport for everyone. Nearly every New Zealander has played it or you will at least know someone that has. Rugby is clearly the stuff of legends. People remember where they were on that wonderful night in 1987 or more recently in 2011. If you don’t know what is significant about those dates, then click onto the next review.
Dr Tom Johnson is a former rugby player who knows the game better than most. Loads of books get written on rugby all the time. Players retire and the next week we have a book about why their coach was too tough or perhaps just right, I think it’s called Goldilocks syndrome in the sporting world. In any case, it’s only the legends that get to write books (well, usually) and they don’t get to be legends by simply turning up on Saturday afternoon and putting on their boots.
Most New Zealanders are very proud of the All Blacks. When your national team wins more often than they lose, someone is obviously doing ‘something’ right. But what is that ‘something’? Johnson’s book aims to work that out. Of course we all have our own theories as to why Richie McCaw should be made King of New Zealand, but to really understand the winning culture of our national team, one needs to ask the legends of the game themselves.
Thankfully for us, Johnson has some exceptional contacts and has done all the leg work for us. He’s picked out eleven of our best players and coaches and had them tell us exactly why the All Blacks are so good at kicking butt.
There are certain basics you need in a good rugby book, the first one is Colin Meads’ opinion. Yup, check, Pinetree is in there. Along with him, Johnson talks to other legends of the game; John Hart, Brian Lochore, Andy Hayden and a good few more. Even Buck ‘most manly injury ever’ Shelford gets to add his two cents worth.
What helps add more impact to this rugby book, and perhaps gives it a point of difference, is that Johnson talks with some top sports psychologists as well. This part of the book gets exceedingly high brow, but hang in there, it is well worth the read and there are some great nuggets for the coaches out there as well.
Here’s your take home bottom line; The classic mid winter stuffing stocker for the rugby enthusiast in your clan, just not if they are they are the current Australian rugby coach.
REVIEWER: Drew Thompson
TITLE: Legends in Black
PUBLISHER: Penguin Random House