The Oval World: A Global History of Rugby (Review)

By September 12, 2016Product News and Reviews, Rugby

Every sport has a defining text.  For soccer it has to be Gavin Newsham’s Once in a Lifetime or David Goldbatt’s The Ball is Round.  Now rugby has one of its own, a new offering from Bloomsbury and Tony Collins called The Oval World: A Global History of Rugby.

Collins is absolutely brilliant in his recalling of rugby’s history.  It is a comprehensive timeline of the sport, chronicling the ups and downs of rugby in every corner of the world.  Readers are treated to over 500 pages of enthralling detail, broken into eight parts and 33 chapters. You won’t find this sort of detail anywhere else because it honestly hasn’t been done before.

Cover Art Courtesy of Bloomsbury Publishing

Cover Art Courtesy of Bloomsbury Publishing

The book doesn’t feel that long thanks to strong flow throughout.  It is organized by both chronology and geography, offering the reader incredible information in one convenient location.  It’s an absolutely brilliant and fascinating text that makes hundreds of years of history pass by as if it was nothing.

You will discover why rugby excelled in some places and floundered in others.  You will hear about its ebbs and flows, its trials and tribulations.  But most importantly you’ll learn about rugby’s past so we can fully understand the sport’s future.

Why did ruby take hold in England, Wales, France, and Italy? Why did it struggle in the U.S. and Canada, but find success in unlikely places like South Africa, New Zealand, Tonga, Fiji and Samoa? How many times has rugby been tried here in the States? All your questions (and so many more) will be answered.

The Oval World is a must-have for anyone that is passionate about rugby or even those that are still learning about the sport.  It’s a great reference, perhaps the best title to ever be written about rugby.  It’s that good.  Bloomsbury continues a tradition of excellent sporting titles, reaffirming why many believe that they are the best in the business.

This book should be of great interest to all of those involved with the game here in North America.  It’s interesting to read that the sport has been tried here before with mixed results.  It is a sport that brought gold medals to the U.S. and yet nearly disappeared altogether.  It’s a sport that is being tried again on a big stage, thanks to groups like PRO Rugby and USA Rugby.

Will history repeat itself or will rugby really be “the next big thing”? Read more to find out.