In the 1970s, an age long before World Cups, rugby union to the British public meant Bill McLaren, rude songs and, most of all, Wales. Between 1969 and 1979, the men in red shirts won or shared eight Five Nations Championships, including three Grand Slams and six Triple Crowns. But the mere facts resonate less than the enduring images of the precision of Gareth Edwards, the sublime touch of Barry John, the sidesteps of Gerald Davies and Phil Bennett, the courage of J.P.R. Williams, and the forward power of the Pontypool Front Row and 'Merv the Swerve' Davies. To the land of their fathers, these Welsh heroes represented pride and conquest at a time when the decline of the province's traditional coal and steel industries was sending thousands to the dole queue and threatening the fabric of local communities. Yet the achievements of those players transcended their homeland and extended beyond mere rugby fans. With the help of comedian Max Boyce, the culture of Welsh rugby and valley life permeated Britain's living rooms at the height of prime time, reinforcing the sporting brilliance that lit up winter Saturday afternoons.
In "Nobody Beats Us", David Tossell, who spent the '70s as a schoolboy scrum-half trying to perfect the Gareth Edwards reverse pass, interviews many of the key figures of a golden age of Welsh rugby and vividly recreates an unforgettable sporting era.
Shortlisted for British Sports Book Awards: Best Rugby Book 2010.
David Tossell has been a sports journalist for three decades and is Director of European Public Affairs for the NFL. Two of his most recent publications, Grovel! and Bertie Mee, were nominated for British Sports Book awards.