Top 10 of Everything Rugby

by Gregor Paul

Exisle Publishing $24.99

Combining his two great loves of footy and list-making, prolific Herald on Sunday scribbler Paul has ensured there'll be plenty of debate around the Christmas dinner table.


A one-page introduction sets up the tome and indemnifies the author against complaint.

"Unquestionably there will be heroes, villains, psychos and random acts of madness that others will feel should have been included. No apology will be offered for that; the list-maker's code prevents it."

Just as well, because otherwise I'd be demanding an apology on behalf of CE Meads. Somehow "Pinetree" scraped into New Zealand's 10 best players at No 8. Eight! The Tree! Outrage on the streets of Te Kuiti. (Just quietly, fine player that he was, you have to wonder if Frank Bunce slipped the author a lazy Kate Sheppard or two to get himself on the list at No 9.)

You suspect Paul doesn't mind a bit of outrage. Having carved out a reputation as an independent thinker on the game, he's hardly going to cry when I tell him that the All Blacks' 17-40 loss to Sydney at Penrith in 1992 was probably a worse team performance than the 10 he chose.

There's plenty to chuckle about. The 10 strangest acts revived a few long-lost memories and even if some of it requires a touch of schadenfreude, the section of 10 worsts is hellishly entertaining.

There's a heck of a lot of lists here, most of them worthy, but at times Paul is stretching credibility. For example, listing Scotland's 10 best players is like listing Milli Vanilli's 10 greatest hits. It can be done, but is probably best left alone.

A picture or two might have been nice. Perhaps the Top 10 best rugby photos. Or is Paul already planning his next work?