Wynne Gray is a Herald columnist

Book review: 2013 Rugby Almanack

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2013 Rugby Almanack
Clive Akers and Geoff Miller
(Hachette NZ RRP: $55)

2013 Rugby Almanack by Clive Akers and Geoff Miller. Photo / Supplied
2013 Rugby Almanack by Clive Akers and Geoff Miller. Photo / Supplied

What timing. Just as the Savea brothers ripped up a storm and headed for an Eden Park duel with the Blues, they burst into print.

Not quite, but both were named in the noble publication's twin lists of players of the year and promising players of the year.

Try getting those names right. That was way too tough for one of the clever office experts, so for the record, the star quintet were Dan Carter, Israel Dagg, Richie McCaw, Kieran Read and Julian Savea.

The promising mob were Dominic Bird, Jamison Gibson-Park, Ardie Savea, Jordan Taufua and Jeffrey Toomaga-Allen.

You could make a case for a number of other All Blacks and the fascination of the promising picks is to see where they end up in five years.

As an exercise, I went back five seasons to discover that three of the almanack's picks for promising men out of the 2008 year are playing Super 15.

One, Colin Slade, has been an All Black too and is making his umpteenth comeback from serious injuries.

Others on that promising list were Dean Budd, Jayden Hayward, James Paterson and Robbie Robinson.

The almanack editors agree that rugby has laws which continue to frustrate and baffle players and fans, but they laud the outlawing of stationary mauls.

They also look forward to an improvement in the All Blacks' uniform standards; their particular grievance is the increasing number of players running on to the field with their socks down.

Perhaps more pertinently they fail to see why sides wear an "away" strip in the Super 15 that clashes with their hosts' uniform.

The almanack pays tribute to weekly magazine Rugby News which was a valuable research resource but will continue only in digital form.

A similar fate may befall the Almanack in what is a tough publishing arena.

Until then though, all 448 pages of the latest printed edition, which has been edited by Clive Akers and Geoff Miller, will continue to be a most valuable resource for those of us whose jobs are linked to the winter code.

Book giveaway

We have four copies of the Rugby Almanack to give away to lucky punters. To be in to win a copy, answer this simple question: Which Taranaki-raised centre was a contentious omission from the 2013 Rugby Almanack's players of the year section?

Write your answers to sportrac@nzherald.co.nz. Put Rugby Almanack in the subject line and include your mailing address in the email. Winners will be notified via email.

- NZ Herald

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