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  • Published: 22 November 2018
  • ISBN: 9781448112371
  • Imprint: Vintage Digital
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 304

Muddied Oafs

The Soul of Rugby

'Acclaimed novelist Richard Beard turns his writer's eye to the love of his sporting life - revisiting his old haunts in an anecdotal investigation of rubgy's heart and soul (and his own)' - Independent

There is Rugby Union: the fast, compelling, TV-friendly combat sport in which sponsored gladiators are sold on their ability to crash into each other at top speed, and sometimes even to avoid each other and score. And then there's rugger.

Rugger was once the serious version of rugby, more than a mere game, a fierce contact-sport developed in Victorian public schools to forge manly and unshakeable character. For a hundred years boys played rugger and made themselves into men. They also drank too much beer and took their trousers down in public.

Richard Beard sets out to examine this contradiction by revisiting his seven former rugby clubs in four different countries. He meets Booker prize-winning authors and former England hookers, explores rugby's rivalry with soccer, its surprising attraction for nonconformists, and its unlikely role in organised crime. All while trying to get himself a game.

This is Beard's quest into his rugby-playing past, where he's lived the sport in many of its varied forms. By the end of his wayward journey, he almost qualifies to judge whether rugger has achieved what the Victorians always intended, and made him a better man.

  • Published: 22 November 2018
  • ISBN: 9781448112371
  • Imprint: Vintage Digital
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 304

About the author

Richard Beard

Richard Beard is the author of Acts of the Assassins which was shortlisted for the Goldsmiths Prize and most recently, The Day That Went Missing. In the twenty years since his first book he has published critically acclaimed novels and narrative non-fiction, including Becoming Drusilla, the story of how a friendship between two men was changed by a gender transition. He was formerly director of the National Academy of Writing in London, and is now a visiting professor at the University of Tokyo and has a Creative Writing Fellowship at the University of East Anglia. He is an optimistic opening batsman for the Authors Cricket Club.

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Praise for Muddied Oafs

Nobody who enjoys both rugby and reading can fail to like this book

Iain Sproat, Scotland on Sunday

A rich and pointed and yet loving trawl through the heroic undercard of rugby

Stephen Jones

Wonderful... This is rugger in the blood, the blind love that sometimes knows no reason save that it is there and there is nothing to be done about it

David Hands, The Times

The book rugby has been waiting for... A likeable, literate and landmark tour de force which unravels and illuminates all the cultural strands, as well as putting the World Cup in perspective

Frank Keating

An elegiac, fascinating and insightful book


An enviable journey of camaraderie and sporting dreams that will resonate with all team players, a funny, trenchant book that settles many a score


Richard Beard's journey to the heart of rugby captures the soul of the game... Hugely enjoyable

John Inverdale

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