In Pursuit of Bill: A Comprehensive History of the Rugby World Cup

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9780955641107: In Pursuit of Bill: A Comprehensive History of the Rugby World Cup

(NOTE: THIS BOOK INCLUDES IMAGES AND A FULL REVIEW OF THE 2007 TOURNAMENT). When Sir Nicholas Shehadie received a late-night phone call from his co-chairman of the organising committee on the eve of the inaugural Rugby World Cup in 1987, he was expecting the worst. Shehadie had just endured a heated two-year journey to bring the first event to fruition amid strong resistance from the Home Unions of England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales. He and his co-chairmen had even survived attempts to be overthrown by the international governing body, but this call brought a challenge of a more humorous kind... 'John Kendall-Carpenter rang me just prior to the World Cup starting and he said: ''Son we have a problem ... we haven t got a trophy''. I never thought about it too much and it seems nobody else did either,'' Shehadie recalls. ''John then went down to Garrards [the Crown jewellers] in London and found this cup. He rang me and said he could buy it for £6000. I had no hesitation in telling him to do it.'' The last-minute efforts of Kendall-Carpenter yielded the coveted trophy that is now the ultimate prize in world rugby, The Webb Ellis Cup, named after student William Webb Ellis of Rugby College in England, who is famously attributed with creating the distinctive feature of the rugby game. The trophy, now more affectionately known in many parts of the rugby world as 'Bill' represents global supremacy of the game, and the story of how countries have gone in pursuit of rugby's ultimate prize is equally compelling as the history of how this grand tournament was born. From modest beginnings in 1987, the Rugby World Cup now has the alluring aura that inspires everything a rugby country can muster. It is all or nothing, and their goal is plain and simple. They have come to reach the pinnacle of a four-year quest. They have come to lay their claim for the ultimate prize in world rugby. They have come ''In Pursuit Of Bill''.

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About the Author:

The hallowed turf at Ballymore in Queensland is where every young rugby wannabe from Australia's ''Sunshine State'' yearns to pull on the jersey for state or country and run out to the roar of a sell-out crowd. Lance Peatey didn't quite fulfil that desire, but he did line up for GPS Colts One against Brothers at Ballymore in an intense curtain-raiser to a Queensland Reds Super10 fixture in 1995. He can even lay claim to scoring the first try under lights in what was the first night game at Queensland rugby headquarters. The match turned out to be the pinnacle of a sound teenage playing career. Since unlacing the boots for the final time a year or so after that, Lance has fulfilled various sports media roles spanning print, broadcast and the internet throughout Australia, North America and the United Kingdom. A keen interest in rugby came early during his schooling at Marist College Ashgrove, renowned for producing many Australian rugby stars, including former Wallabies captain and dual Rugby World Cup winner John Eales, and his enthusiasm for the game is now channelled through words rather than the sorry state of aching limbs on a Sunday. Lance is currently based in London, where he is a Senior Producer for IMG Media, managing a series of sports projects including a major international online media campaign for a worldwide partner of Rugby World Cup 2007. From the humble playing fields of junior club rugby to the spectacular cauldrons of Rugby World Cup finals, Lance has been living and breathing the game in the media across both hemispheres for more than a decade. ''In Pursuit of Bill'' showcases some of his finest interviews to date, while bringing to the fore one of the most interesting stories of modern day sport.

Review:

BOOK OF THE WEEK - The Independent. For once a book's title is not a load of hyperbole. Comprehensive just about covers this excellent work, which leaves the other offerings on the market looking pretty sick. In fact the publishers could have almost used ''Pre-history'' in the sub-heading, since the author, Lance Peatey, opens his minor masterpiece in 146BC, with a look at Harpastum - the Roman form of the Greek game episkyros. Peatey's academic approach has produced a cultured read, which incorporates a very good statistical and records section in the appendices. The reader is reminded that the Rugby World Cup got off to a shaky start. It was 1987, Nelson Mandela was still incarcerated in prison on Robben Island, and South Africa did not have a prayer of partaking since the Republic was still enmeshed in its barbaric apartheid philosophy and host nations Australia and New Zealand, quite rightly refused to allow the Springboks to enter the tournament. There was a military coup in Fiji a week before the start which also cast a cloud. But it had taken a lot of talking long before then even to get within a week of the scheduled start. It needed the persuasive powers and imagination of two men, Sir Nicholas Shehadie (the then president of the Australian Rugby Union) and former All Blacks manager; Dick Littlejohn, to convince the blazered world of rugby that this was a goer. What became known as the ''Nick and Dick Show'' travelled the globe and after much jaw-jaw and not a little haw-haw and guffaw from the sceptics they eventually sold the concept. New Zealand emerged as the inaugural holders of the trophy, yet they very nearly did not have a thing to cling to after beating France in the final. Just before the start of the tournament, the RFU's John Kendall-Carpenter, co-chairman of the International Board's Rugby World Cup sub-committee, rang Shehadie to say, ''We haven't got a trophy''. Kendall-Carpenter paid the Royal jewellers Garrards £6,000 for a silver gilt trophy - named The Webb Ellis Cup after the Rugby School pupil, William, of that name - hence the ''Bill''; in this book's title. Rugby fans and sports followers in general are urged to go in pursuit of this book. - David Llewellyn --The Independent (UK) - December 17, 2007.

Rugby union has been blessed by many books and the World Cup seems to generate its own stash of publications, both pre and post-tournament. 'In Pursuit of Bill' falls into the latter category and is a detailed history of the competition, from its inception in 1987 to the 2007 tournament. From the foreword by dual Rugby World Cup champion and former Saracens centre Tim Horan, the book is full of interviews and insight from many of the people closest to the action, the players. Current stars include Phil Vickery, and past greats such as Martin Johnson, Sean Fitzpatrick, John Eales, Philippe Sella, Zinzan Brooke and Francois Pienaar are all there. Author Lance Peatey has put together a mass of text and as well as the detailed account of each World Cup, there are chapters on the ''interim years'' between each competition as well as also ''five magic memories'' from each of the tournaments. A book of this nature would be incomplete without a record and statistical section. Like the general body of the book, there's a vast amount of information - perhaps enough to fill a book on its own. From team line-ups to competition records, it is certainly a comprehensive section. ''In Pursuit of Bill'' is certainly a book worth reading and not one that skimps on its coverage of the sport s major competition. - Paul English --Rugby Times - December 21, 2007.

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