Win a copy of Rugby’s Greatest Mavericks

Rugby’s Greatest Mavericks looks at 20 players from 11 countries whose individuality could not be missed. Published by Y Lolfa, Luke Upton’s book charts the stories of men and women who left their mark. At the foot of this article, enter our competition to win one of six copies.

“A maverick is not just someone who goes against the grain but is a player who genuinely wants to do something different,” writes David Campese in the foreword.

“The mavericks that inspired me were the Ella brothers. I remember playing an exhibition match with Mark. We had a scrum in our 22 and he simply said ‘Look for me’ and we traded passes all the way down the pitch to the try-line.”

The term originates from a 19th-century Texan cattle rancher, Samuel Maverick, who refused to brand his cows.

Danny Cipriani

Danny Cipriani in Barbarians action last November (Getty)

The first chapter looks at Danny Cipriani, described as arguably the most talented player of his generation despite a modest haul of 16 caps.

Sir Clive Woodward said if he’d had to choose between Cipriani and Jonny Wilkinson during his time in charge of England, he would have had a very big headache.

Finn Russell, the best man to unpick a rush defence according to Ronan O’Gara, and Sergio Parisse, nearing the end of a magnificent career, are the only other current players to feature. The earliest subject is Alexander Obolensky, the Russian prince who starred briefly for England in 1936 before meeting a tragic end in a flying accident.

Some of the chosen mavericks endured depression and alcoholism, even drug addiction in the case of Dai Bishop and the late James Small. Christophe Dominici reached breaking point after a series of major setbacks and tragedies in his life. Such was his mental stress that he couldn’t sleep and in 2000 he was put into an induced coma having stayed awake for 25 days.

All Black Zinzan Brooke qualifies as a maverick just for attempting his remarkable World Cup semi-final drop-goal against England, let alone nailing it. The inclusion of Jean-Pierre Rives and David Pocock owes much to the way they forged reputations in art and politics.

Watch Zinzan Brooke’s amazing drop-goal below…

Some of the player profiles are based on published material, others are supplemented by fresh interviews. The author speaks to Heather Moyse and Non Evans, to Joel Stransky about Small and to Donal Lenihan about Moss Keane.

Who’s the maverick above all others? There is no attempt to rank the 20 but certainly Campese would take some beating. Once described by Tony Ward as like Pele and Maradona rolled into one, the Wallaby legend has never given two hoots about diplomacy and protocol.

Win a copy of Rugby's Greatest Mavericks

Typically, the Australian uses his foreword to bemoan what he sees as a lack of flair and too much coaching in modern rugby. “But the worst invention in world rugby is the academy,” he adds. “They’re run by people who were never that good at playing rugby and they just churn out boring players who can’t think for themselves.”

Campese will never be sitting on any fences!


Rugby’s Greatest Mavericks by Luke Upton is published by Y Lolfa, RRP £12.99.

We also have six copies to give away, courtesy of Y Lolfa. For a chance to win a copy of Rugby’s Greatest Mavericks, just answer the question below and fill in your details. The competition closes on Wednesday 19 April.

Competition question pic

David Campese (right) and Nick Farr-Jones lift the Webb Ellis Cup – but what year was this? (Inpho)

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