Rugby fan? Win this fascinating read

Win a copy of the new Carwyn James book, the remarkable biography Into the Wind,

Had life taken a happier course, Carwyn James would have celebrated his 90th birthday on the day of the 2019 World Cup final. Instead, his tragically premature death in 1983 will forever cast the longest of shadows.

His lonely end at the age of 53, in an Amsterdam hotel room, adds mystique to the visionary Welshman, whose status as the only victorious Lions coach in New Zealand will now remain intact until at least 2029.

Myths abound about James and some are dispelled in Alun Gibbard’s remarkable biography Into the Wind, a work that doubled in size because the author discovered so much of interest. He interviewed more than 100 people during his research.

The four strands of bachelor James’s life were literature, broadcasting, politics and rugby, and large swathes of the book are devoted to his teaching career in particular, where his passion for the Welsh language and heritage shone through in everything he did.

A man of complexity

Gibbard is not afraid to point out the contradictions in James’s personality. For example, he took a strong stance against South Africa because of apartheid yet toured countries with brutally oppressive communist regimes.

He highlights too the way James needed constant mothering. Uncashed cheques littered his car and when, after becoming a journalist, he moved to a Cardiff flat, he seemingly didn’t know how to turn off an oven or use a tin opener.

His probable homosexuality, an issue explored towards the end of the book, would have affected his life immeasurably. It wasn’t even legal until he was nearly 40 years old and the rumours that swirled around Welsh rugby and beyond almost certainly cost him friends in high places.

As we know, James was still able to make the most dramatic of impacts in rugby. There was a taster in the 21-pass try, involving 14 players, that Llanelli scored in a defeat by the Springboks.

The Lions, Llanelli and Barbarians teams that felled the All Blacks in the early Seventies all bore his thrilling hallmark, and the game at large will always be in his debt. “Our success was entirely down to him,” says 1971 Lion Ian McLauchlan.

James’s sorry decline makes painful reading. Having lost his roots, he drifted into alcoholism, which reached a nadir when he fell asleep during a match he was commentating on. The BBC suspended him.

James’s halo slips at times in Into the Wind but there’s no doubting his genius. He likened rugby to the flow of music or an opera, and 34 years after his death the sport is still singing his praises.

You’ll find a review of the book in the September 2017 issue of Rugby World.

To enter: for your chance to win this great prize simply go to the competition site by clicking on ‘Enter Competition’ button, answer this question – How many Wales caps did Carwyn James win? and enter your details – easy!


Enter by: 08/09/2017

Good luck

No purchase necessary.

See competition website for full terms and conditions.

Promoted By: Rugby World

Enter Competition

Recommended for you