Book Review by Wes "Brigham" Clark
"My Dad the Rugby Player"
Written by Cynthia McBride
Illustrated by Barbara Lerch
2000, Poco Press, Raleigh, NC
This is a charming little book that fulfills a real need: to give kids age-appropriate information about the sport of rugby and to understand why he (or she - there are illustrations of women's rugby as well) would want to play such a formidable sport. I'm sure this type of thing is common in the major rugby nations, but it seems to be absent here in the U.S.
This book is dedicated to the future home of the Raleigh (North Carolina) Viper Rugby Club, with a portion of the proceeds going to that club's pitch and clubhouse fund. My rugby club - Western Suburbs RFC - is located in Fairfax County, in Northern Virginia. Land here is at least $50,000 an acre; clearly, purchasing enough land for a pitch and clubhouse is a major undertaking. I don't know what land prices are like around Raleigh, but I wish them well!
Back to the book: it gives a brief description of the various features of the game of rugby - pitch dimensions, history, positions, scrums and line-outs. There is some wry humor here, as when the boy describes his father as knowing more about the game than the refs (don't we all?), and the departure of the family from the after-match social when the "silly songs" and knowing looks between the parents begin.
In an attempt to make this report truly useful and to get the average kid's opinion about the book, I tried it out on my three kids: Ethan, age 17; Julie age, 14 and Meredith, age 11. I was hoping the book would instill pride in their old man for playing rugby. Ethan's only comment was, "Rugby sucks. Lacrosse rules", which pretty much describes his mindset regarding anything his old man is interested in. That's okay; he'll find himself becoming me in a few years (it happens to every son), and my guess is that someday he will find himself passing the oval ball in spite of his current, criminally-uninformed opinions.
My sweet daughter Julie's report was, "I liked it a lot. I especially liked the illustrations. I'm impressed that you play rugby - I tell all my friends at school. I'll tell any boys I meet my father plays rugby, so they have to watch out. Can I have a car when I turn 16?"
Turning to my last hope, Meredith, she reported that she liked the book because "...it told about rugby rules and what's happening on the grass." When I asked if it made her appreciate me more, she merely smiled. Old enough for diplomacy, not yet old enough to desire a car.
This book is cleverly illustrated and incorporates photographic images with the colorful drawings. The only omission I noticed was that none of the rugby players are drawn with goatees or shaved heads. But that's okay - youth and innocence should be preserved. No sense in having to look at that until one has to.
This book is recommended for all ruggers with kids or with kids on the way. If it's respect you're really seeking, purchase a P/T Cruiser while you're at it.
You can purchase "My Dad the Rugby Player" by sending a check or money order for $9.95 each plus $3.00 shipping to The Poco Press at 6801-B Johnsdale Road, Raleigh, NC 27615.