Win Warren Gatland’s autobiography
Warren Gatland’s autobiography has received critical acclaim and tells the story of one of the most successful coaches the game has seen. You can read a review of the book here.
At the bottom of this article, we’re offering you a chance to win one of five copies in a competition. First, by way of a taster, here’s an abridged extract from the book concerning an episode from Gatland’s playing days. It occurred at a time when the former hooker was turning out for both Waikato in New Zealand and Galwegians in Ireland…
“The serious aspect of my association with Galwegians was winning promotion to the All Ireland League, writes Warren Gatland. We made the play-offs at the first attempt. The crucial game was against Dolphin, whose big-name international was Michael Kiernan.
We had qualification in our hands as the match unfolded but we all know the story about the fat lady and her singing voice. In the final minute, our fly-half Eric Elwood banged the ball out on the full and conceded a scrum on our 22, from which Kiernan dropped the winning goal. I was devastated. That year, the flight home to New Zealand seemed to take forever.
To my considerable relief, we put things to rights the following season and made the great leap forward. Not that my own rugby life was growing any more straightforward.
Back home in Waikato, I was playing in a successful provincial side with legitimate designs on a first National Provincial Championship title: a crown worn by only three teams, Auckland, Wellington and Otago, since the tournament had been reshaped in the mid-1980s. We were up against Auckland, our most implacable rivals, in the semi-final and felt we could win.
What I wasn’t confident about was being in New Zealand for the final if we happened to make it through. The rules in Ireland stated that I had to be there in the country physically by 1st October if I wanted to register as an overseas player. In fact, George Spotswood, the Irish union’s first technical director, had to see me with his own eyes before he could grant me permission to play for Galwegians in the 1992-93 season.
Annoyingly, the dates clashed pretty much directly, hence my conversation with Kevin Greene, the outstanding Waikato coach, at this crucial point in the team’s history. “If we beat Auckland,” I said, “I don’t think I can be here for the final.”
Kevin was a brilliant man-manager. He immediately told me that if I could conceivably be available on the date of the final, and if Waikato were in it, he would pick me.
Climate change campaigners will not want to hear this, but I somehow managed to do the necessary. Once we had seen off the Aucklanders, I caught the Monday long-haul flight to Heathrow, transferred to Dublin, grabbed a lift to the Irish RFU headquarters in Lansdowne Road, stood in front of George, completed the appropriate paperwork, drove to Galway that night for a Galwegians training session and stayed the night there before being driven back to Dublin for the plane to Heathrow and the return flight to NZ.
I arrived on the Friday morning, trained that night with Waikato, had Saturday off and then took the field in Hamilton for our final with Otago, the reigning champions. We absolutely hammered them 40-5, scoring the bulk of our points during the first half.
This was a blessing for there was no way I had 80 minutes of full-on rugby inside me. I remember looking up at the scoreboard five minutes after the interval, by which point serious fatigue was kicking in. We were winning 30-zip. The thought came into my head that I could walk for the rest of the contest, happy in the knowledge that we couldn’t possibly lose from there.
We celebrated out first NPC triumph in good style, after which I got back on the plane and returned to Ireland.
Did I break some records as a rugby traveller in that endless week? I must have done. Forget Around the World in 80 Days. Try Around the World for 80 Minutes. The only evidence I can give in my defence is that all those flights were economy class. There’s dedication for you.”
Here’s your chance to win Warren Gatland’s autobiography. Pride and Passion is published by Headline, RRP £20, and comes highly recommended. You can buy it here.
We have five copies of the book to give away. For a chance to win one, just answer the question below and fill in your details. The competition closes on Thursday 27 August.
Terms and conditions
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