Bev Risman: Both Sides of the Fence charts the career of one of rugby’s finest dual-code players.
In union, the Lancastrian played for England from 1959-61 and started four Tests for the 1959 Lions, a tour on which he captained the tourists against North Auckland.
Despite breaking his leg against Manawatu, Risman recovered to make the last few games and scored the winning try in the Auckland Test. The series was lost, somewhat controversially, 3-1.
A free-running fly-half by instinct, his frustration with the restrictive rugby favoured by England at the time is evident. He recalls how, in a game against Ireland, he was admonished by Jeff Butterfield for daring to pass to the centre when in his own half!
Idiotic selections and suppressive amateurism rules also tried his patience and it was no surprise when he jumped ship to rugby league for a world record signing-on fee.
There followed a chequered career with Leigh and a more successful one with Leeds that included playing in the famous ‘Water splash final’ of 1968 at Wembley.
Risman’s post-playing days were not wasted either, with a number of important coaching and administrative roles within rugby league. A PE teacher by profession, he also ‘secretly’ coached union teams in an era when there was little love lost between the two codes.
You can read a review of this book in the May 2017 issue of Rugby World.
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