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Swansea author pens insight into some of rugby’s most fascinating characters

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The Oxford English Dictionary’s definition of a maverick encompasses all that Rugby’s Greatest Mavericks has to offer, as the author of the bestselling Hard Men of Rugby gives us the thrilling stories of 20 of the most fascinating rugby mavericks spanning the last 80 years, 11 nations and both the men’s and women’s game.

This lively new book by Swansea born author Luke Upton brings some of rugby’s craziest moments, biggest characters and most remarkable stories to life. Following a book launch at Cover to Cover bookshop in Mumbles the book is proving to be an early Christmas bestseller!

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Featuring exclusive interviews and extensive research, it’s an insight into players with a keen independence of spirit, a desire to do things their own way and a belief in their own path – which whilst not always correct, is typically memorable, occasionally disastrous but always true to them.

It’s not just on the field that our mavericks stood out. From politics to religion, art to activism, the Winter Olympics to the Commonwealth Games, they made their mark in many ways. Rugby’s Greatest Mavericks, which includes chapters on Italy’s most-capped international Sergio Parisse, Wales’ multi-talented Non Evans and All Blacks legend Zinzan Brooke, among others, is about much more than rugby.

Luke Upton, who was born and bred in Swansea and his first job was as a lottery ticket salesman at Swansea RFC in the last few years of non-regional rugby carried out exclusive interviews with several of the mavericks and their former teammates – Springboks superstar Joel Stransky, Lions legend Donal Lenihan and Welsh great Steve Fenwick, to name just a few – give new insight into their drivers and motivations as well as the personal insecurities and vulnerabilities that were often the catalysts to their ‘maverick’ behaviour.

With players often criticised for lacking in personality due to media coaching, it would be fair to question whether mavericks are an endangered species in the modern game. This book certainly supports the notion that it’s mavericks that make the game so special, and that they should be protected at all costs.

World Cup-winning Wallaby, broadcaster and coach David Campese said in his exclusive foreword, “It’s a great mix of players Luke has selected. They are all maverick in their own different way and show how rugby should be able to accommodate all kinds of personalities and styles.”

“A real maverick knows what they want, focuses on the things that they love to do and is not swayed by other people’s opinions,” says Heather Moyse, Canadian international and Winter Olympics gold medallist, who was also interviewed for the book.

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Roger M Uttley OBE, former England player, captain and coach and Lions player and coach, gives his hearty approval to the book, which includes a chapter on his good friend and teammate Andy Ripley: “What a great read! Thoroughly enjoyed discovering previously unknown facts about some playing contemporaries and others, all of whom brought an extra dimension to the game of rugby over the years.” 

The book published by Y Lolfa is available from Cover to Cover in Mumbles, Swansea Waterstones as well as all good bookshops and online.

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