Love Rugby – you’ll like this read!

Like to win this terrific book about Clem Thomas – six copies up for grabs

It’s around this time of year that the various judging panels meet to determine their shortlists for the Cross Sports Book Awards. It’s a racing certainty that Clem, a biography of the late and great Wales and Lions flanker Clem Thomas, will be at the heart of the discussion on the best rugby books.

It’s written by his oldest son, Chris, and a better raconteur would be difficult to find. The 368-page book is bursting with anecdotes and many of them relate not directly to Clem but to his friends and acquaintances.

Sailor Malan, the South African flying ace who Thomas first met during the 1955 Lions tour, was someone who significantly shaped the Welshman’s life. Another key figure was former England back-row Peter Robbins, Thomas’s true soulmate and the funniest man he ever met.

win this book about clem thomas

Yet it’s clear that Thomas was one of those remarkable characters who seemed to know everyone, and his company was much sought. He was friends with Richard Burton and roomed with his brother at Cambridge. He dined with the King of Sweden. He became a brother-in-arms to racing driver Peter Collins, who was to die in the 1958 German Grand Prix.

He lent Clement Freud £6k in a Swansea casino and received the loan back later the same evening, after the broadcaster and politician had a successful night at the tables.

Kingsley Amis cast Thomas as his hero in the book I Like It Here and Neath artist Andrew Vicari, the man who revolutionized painting in the Arab world, portrayed him as Jesus Christ in a unique version of The Last Supper. The stories go on and on.

win this book about clem thomas

As a rugby player, Thomas adopted the phrase ‘blood on the boot’, used by his school coach at Blundell’s in Devon, as his battle cry. He was the first English-based schoolboy to win a Welsh Secondary Schools cap and went on to win 26 senior Wales caps and two for the Lions in a ten-year international career.

The cross-kick he delivered for Ken Jones’s winning try against the 1953 All Blacks – a tactic he picked up from French rugby – is one of the legendary moments in Welsh rugby.

But surpassing even that perhaps is his contribution to the drawn Lions series in South Africa two years later, when he was allocated the role of ‘avenging angel’ to deal with opponents who took cheap shots at his team-mates. Tony O’Reilly was the spotter.

Thomas missed the first ten games of that 25-match tour because of appendicitis – the surgeon who operated on him came straight from a post-match dinner!

Clem Thomas died of a heart attack in September 1996, aged 67. He is buried in a churchyard overlooking Swansea Bay, where he used to sail his boat The Baa-Baa, and the St Helen’s ground he graced with such full-blooded distinction.

To enter: for your chance to win one of six copies, simply go to the competition site by clicking on ‘Enter Competition’ button, answer this question –

 and enter your details – easy!

Enter by: 13/04/2018

Good luck

No purchase necessary.

See competition website for full terms and conditions.

Promoted By: Rugby World

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