Venue: St Peter's Church, Oundle, PE8 4AL
Stephen Cooper enthrals us with his latest book, After the Final Whistle: The First Rugby World Cup and the First World War
As Britain’s Empire went to war in August 1914, rugby players were the first to volunteer. They led from the front and paid a disproportionate price. In 1919, a grateful Mother Country hosted a rugby tournament: sevens teams at eight venues, playing 17 matches to declare a first ‘world champion’. There had never been an international team tournament like it. For the first time teams from Australia, Canada, New Zealand, South Africa, Britain and France were assembled in one place. Rugby held the first ever ‘World Cup’. It was a moment of triumph, a celebration of military victory, of Commonwealth and Allied unity, and of rugby values, moral and physical.
In 2015 the tournament returns to England as the world remembers the Centenary of the Great War. Values of teamwork, respect, discipline were forged and tested in war – and enjoyment of rugby helped men through it. This is the story of rugby’s journey through the First World War to its first World Cup, and how those values endure today.
Justin Webb, journalist and BBC Radio presenter...
"further proof of the glorious civilising influence of rugby union..."
"...lovingly researched and full to the brim of stories of heroism and fulfilment..."
'A triumph: a proper accompaniment to the rugby world cup..."
Lewis Moody MBE, Rugby World Cup winner and RFU Great War Commemoration Ambassador.
‘As a World Cup winner with a great grandfather who fought in this war, I was really moved by this book. To read of men who lived through hell, then in the aftermath pieced themselves together and played the first rugby World Cup in 1919, brought home to me why our game’s values, forged in adversity, are so strong.’
Stephen Cooper was born in Birmingham, England. After Cambridge University, he was a MadMan in New York, London and Toronto and a poor rugby player wherever he went; he first began writing as a travel journalist. His grandfather fought at the Somme, but refused to tell the tale, so inspiring in him a lifelong fascination for the Great War. His first book ‘The Final Whistle’ was Rugby Book of the Year in the 2013 Times British Sports Book Awards.
Tickets £8 (£6), £1 off early bird tickets bought before 18th September, available from the Oundle Box Office, 4 New Street, Oundle.
Open hours: 10.00am – 1.00pm Mon to Fri Tel 01832 274734, online at www.oundlefestival.org.uk
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