Sportsbook round-up: The French rugby player who missed an international cap over a sandwich

All the latest sports book news, including a review of Alain Rolland’s Autobiography - The Whistle Blower.

Irish Bestseller List

Sportsbook round-up: The French rugby player who missed an international cap over a sandwich

1. The Autobiography by Henry Shefflin

Penguin Ireland

Sales: 677

2. My Story by Steven Gerrard


Sales: 608

3. Standing My Ground: The Autobiography by Brendan Cummins

Transworld Ireland

Sales: 288

4. Pulling the Strings: My Autobiography by Peter Stringer

Penguin Ireland

Sales: 269

5. Leading by Alex Ferguson

Hodder & Stoughton

Sales: 194

Week ended October 17


The Whistle Blower by Alain Rolland

A fascinating insight into the thought process of a top-flight international referee and his life off the pitch.

The only Irishman to have refereed a Rugby World Cup final, Rolland opens the book with his thought process and anxiety on the day he was to find out if he would be that final referee.

Sportsbook round-up: The French rugby player who missed an international cap over a sandwich

While Rolland’s story has a beginning to end thread at the core there are stories from throughout his career wrapped around that thread.  He mentions incidents in passing before they are picked up and dealt with in greater detail later in the book.

His early days as an elite rugby player are given full treatment though the stories don’t break the traditional “what goes on tour..”, it is more a case of Rolland sharing his own personal circumstances and feelings around his playing career.

Rolland shares the heartache of his father’s decline and then death, his relationship with rugby captains from the good (Thierry Dusautoir), the bad (Pascal Papé) to the ugly (Steve Borthwick). He also details examples of his own mistakes as a referee as well as his self-belief in the face of public criticism.


Sportsbook round-up: The French rugby player who missed an international cap over a sandwich

The Little Book of Rubgy Facts by Eddie Ryan

Sell it in a tweet:  All you need to know about rugby, in a nutshell.   

What made you write it: My love of Irish sport. The passion of the fans, and the pride and passion of the players. Rugby is now the fastest growing sport in the country. I wanted old and new fans to get a  taste of the history, the humour, and the amazing stories of this wonderful game. 

Best line:  ’You’re not a rugby player unless you have been dropped.’   The late great Jack Kyle on the importance of bench service!

Favourite story:  French player Giles Varielles who was called up to the French rugby team in 1910. The train stopped for a comfort break on the way to the game. Giles had worked up an appetite and hopped off to buy a sandwich. While making the purchase he heard the train siren, and watched in horror as the locomotive began to pull out of the station. Despite his best efforts, he missed the train, and his international debut. The French rugby board took a very dim view of his departure, and he never played for France again. Which of course meant he never played at all, and all because of a sandwich!   

Who is the real hero:  Tom Crean (Not the explorer). He played rugby for Leinster and Ireland. He was also one of Leinster’s first British & Irish Lions. He won a Victoria Cross at the battle of Elanslagte. Despite coming under heavy fire he attended to two wounded soldiers, after being wounded himself.

Who comes out worst:  The villian of the piece has to be the Springbok Johan Le Reux, who brought a whole new meaning to the term ’Big game Hunting’. He was banned, for attempting to to bite New Zealand’s Sean Fitzpatrcik’s ear off. He said ’I should have bitten the guy’s ear off. At lest then I could have said, I’ve returned to South Africa with the guy’s ear.’  

Book this is most like:  The Little Book of GAA Facts. 

Book this is least like:   A game for Hooligans (A history of Rugby). 

Where should we read it?   It fits in your pocket, so read it everywhere. 

What will the book change your mind about:  Rugby is truly a great game. It is filled with hero’s and has a wonderful history.  



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