Rainbow Warrior: The Hard-Hitting Autobiography

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9780002189057: Rainbow Warrior: The Hard-Hitting Autobiography

In one of the most important rugby books of the last three decades, the former captain of South Africa’s 1995 World Cup winning side reveals his compelling career story and his remarkable role in the historic re-emergence of the Rainbow Nation onto the world stage.

The image of Francois Pienaar shaking hands with Nelson Mandela as the South African captain was presented with the Webb Ellis trophy on that magical afternoon at Ellis Park, Johannesburg in 1995 will never be forgotten. A quite remarkable athlete and ambassador for multi-racial sport was being honoured in front of an estimated global audience of some 15 million.

In his autobiography, Francois Pienaar demonstrates how throughout his career he has led by example, both on and off the pitch – but especially off it. He not only said the right things at the right times, he convinced us that he meant every word of it. He even organised for the cash-strapped Romanians to be given a brand new set of Adidas kit before they flew home from the World Cup.

Not long after this, however, he found himself incurring the wrath of the Transvaal RFU as he led a walkout of leading international rugby players demanding better pay terms. In his book he describes in detail that defining period in the history of the game, and how he was ostracised by the South African board as the global game was threatened with being torn apart.

A glowing international career at an end, Pienaar explains the motives behind his move to London-based Saracens as player-coach on a two-year contract. His arrival sparked a remarkable change of fortunes for the second division outfit, leading to promotion the next year followed by second place in the Premiership and a Cup winners trophy in 1998.

Rainbow Warrior is much more than an autobiography of a top-class sportsman. It is the first-hand account of a man who grew up in a strong Afrikaaner heartland to unite his country, the new South Africa, the rainbow nation, not just in rugby but across the wide spectrum of international relations.

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Review:

And I did play on. It was only when my vision began to blur deep inside the second half that I realised it would be impossible for me to remain on the field. It had long since been irresponsible, but now I was being bloody minded.
The 1995 Rugby Union World Cup in South Africa was a uniquely resonant sporting spectacle which thrilled TV millions across the world--that the battling Springboks should triumph on behalf of the fledgling Rainbow Nation was pure Disney. But the stories behind the public drama were anything but fit for a family audience, as Springbok's captain Francois Pienaar reveals in his autobiography Rainbow Warrior.

If you were in any doubt that professional sport, and rugby in particular, was a hard, sometimes vicious business, where team pride often sits uneasily with individual ambition, and money talks loudest of all, then this controversial book will set you straight.

From his rugby education fighting for the honour of Transvaal--both on and off the pitch--through the glory years captaining an all-conquering Springboks side as they stormed the national stage after decades in the wilderness, to his self-imposed exile in the English game with Saracens, Rainbow Warrior is Pienaar's largely unsentimental reflection on an extraordinary career.

As the Union game continues to struggle with the challenges of professionalism--in all its forms--Pienaar's is a highly critical voice. He wastes no time in pinpointing the failings of the game's ruling bodies and argues that both for the Springboks and the game in general, the 1999 World Cup failed to effectively build on the momentum generated by the 1995 event.

But at the heart of this book is Pienaar's passion for the competitive game and for winning--with the emphasis firmly placed on the latter. --Alex Hankin

Review:

“ It is a tour de force”
Mail on Sunday

“A remarkable story”
The Times

“A vital addition to the collection of any Springbok fan”
South Africa Times

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Pienaar, Francois & Griffiths, Edward
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