Winner of the Rugby Book of the Year Award 2013.
In the years leading up to the First World War, the Rugby grounds of Britain became training grounds for war. The Final Whistle plays tribute to the pivotal role Rugby played in the Great War by following the poignant stories of fifteen men who played for Rosslyn Park, London. They came from diverse backgrounds, with players from Australia, Ceylon, Colombia, Ireland and South Africa, but they were united by their love of the game and their courage in the face of war. Stephen Cooper follows them from London to the Western Front, Mesopotamia, Turkey, Italy and Dublin, through some of the war's fiercest battles. The Final Whistle is a must-read for any rugby enthusiast or First World War historian.
Founded in 1879, when British soldiers fought in Afghanistan as they do today, Rosslyn Park has no Great War memorial. An old press cutting gave numbers - 350 served, 72 died - but no names. So began a quest to rediscover these men and capture their lives, from their vanished Edwardian youth and vigour, to the war they fought and how they died. This is their story.
"Stephen Cooper has written a haunting and beautiful book. Here we see the grinding slaughter and the everyday humanity of men hurled into the abyss of modern warfare at its most terrible. His book tells the story of men from one rugby club but it is a universal narrative of heroism and loss. He writes superbly and has produced a book of commendable scholarship. I cannot recommend it enough." - Fergal Keane
"A fresh and fascinating take on the impact of the Great War, with a novel and moving focus" - Ian Hislop