BUY NOW from AmazonFacing the Haka, published by Allen & Unwin NZMany love it, some despise it – the haka always gets people animated. This beautifully presented book, published in partnership with NZ Rugby, explains one of sport’s most famous rituals from the perspective of those who have performed it or stared it down. “It’s an amazing experience,” says Manu Tuilagi. “It gets you pumped up watching them do it.”BUY NOW from AmazonRory Best: My Autobiography, published by Hodder & StoughtonThe “shy, fat lad” come good. Rory Best didn’t get the fairytale ending to his Ireland career that he sought at Japan 2019 but what a contribution – 124 caps, 38 of them as captain, across 14 largely successful years. His gripping autobiography was one of 2020’s earlier offerings and charts the chequered fortunes of a player who quit the booze to become an Irish great.Read a full review of Rory Best’s book here.BUY NOW from AmazonMud, Maul, Mascara, published by UnboundAs the women’s game grows in standards and profile, a happy byproduct is books such as this. Catherine Spencer, who captained England to three Six Nations titles, talks about the glory years and the mental struggles she faced both as an elite athlete and a woman living an everyday life. There are a few shots fired in the RFU’s direction too.BUY NOW from AmazonSaving Rugby Union, published by Y LolfaWhy did they change our game?, The Sorry Saga of the Crooked Scrum Feed and Farewell, Common Sense – three of the chapter headings that tell you where this book is going. Ross Reyburn delivers a damning verdict on the way rugby union has been run in the professional era and details the issues he believes require urgent solutions.BUY NOW from AmazonRunning the Race, published by Christian FocusA biography of the Scotland wing famous for winning gold at the 1924 Olympics. A Christian missionary, Eric Liddell chose to run in the 400m instead of the 100m so he didn’t have to run on a Sunday. Author John W Keddie was an adviser on the epic film Chariots of Fire and his book delves into Liddell’s sporting achievements and the faith that pushed him to excel.BUY NOW from AmazonRugby Behind Barbed Wire, published by AmberleyFifty years on, Chris Schoeman explores the Springboks’ controversial 1969-70 tour of Britain and Ireland. Played to a backdrop of heightened political tension because of apartheid, the tourists were besieged amid a series of violent demonstrations. Smoke bombs and flour bombs were a regular match-day occurrence. Many of those involved are interviewed.BUY NOW from AmazonPuddings, Bullies & Squashes, published by Sunnyrest BooksBritain is where its two principal football codes were given shape and discipline. The cradle for this was the 19th century public schools and Malcolm Tozer tells the story of 20 of those schools and their versions of the game. The book conveys the variety of those early codes before the nationalisation of the game by the FA from 1863 and the RFU from 1871.BUY NOW from AmazonA Few Wise Words, published by AmershamNot a rugby book but included here because of a contribution from Sir Clive Woodward. Compiled by Peter Mukherjee, it features 22 stories of success and inspirational advice by the likes of Stephen Fry, Joanna Lumley and Sir Ben Ainslie. “I never lose – I either win or I learn,” says ex-England coach Woodward in a volume as apt as ever during uncertain times.BUY NOW from AmazonBehind The Silver Fern, published by PolarisA new edition of Polaris’s player-told All Blacks history, compiled by Tony Johnson and Lynn McConnell. The original version came out to great acclaim in 2017. Discover who faced Australia with his arm in a sling, who withdrew from a Test side because no one would milk his cows and who kicked down the Gnoll’s changing-room door. A riveting read.BUY NOW from AmazonUnholy Union, published by ConstableAuthor Michael Aylwin, in collaboration with consultant Mark Evans, released this fascinating in-depth analysis of our sport last year – the hardback cover is pictured. The paperback edition, updated and with a new prologue, followed recently and is as searingly relevant one year on. “The rugby universe now fits in your pocket!” says Aylwin.BUY NOW from AmazonThe Grudge, published by PolarisHow time flies – this award-winning masterpiece by Tom English first came out more than ten years ago. It stands the test of time, exploring the spite and sniping surrounding Scotland’s famous Grand Slam win against England in 1990. If you missed it first time around, get your hands on this 30th anniversary updated edition.Read a full review of The Grudge here.BUY NOW from AmazonSamson Rising, published by United WritersThe inspirational story of John Hambly, a grass-roots player from Cornwall and later captain of London side Actonians. After contracting MS, he created the Samson Centre in Guildford for sufferers of this terrible disease. Dylan Hartley pens the foreword and pays warm tribute to Hambly, who won a Sport Give Back award. £1 from every sale goes to the centre.Read a full review of Samson Rising here. BUY NOW from AmazonIf you’re looking for a new pair of rugby boots or a replica shirt, check out our buyers’ guides for the best rugby kit. LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS Take your pick: a few of the excellent rugby books that were published during 2020 (Imogen Pearey) Best Rugby Books 2020Star-name autobiographies perennially feature heavily in rugby publishing and there have been some crackers of late. But there’s a feast of other material available: histories, critiques, hard men and the haka. You have the poignancy of serious injury and the purity of children’s adventures, real life and fiction side by side. Here are the best rugby books of 2020…Best Rugby Books 2020Joe Marler: Loose Head, published by Ebury PressJust like a rugby ball, you never know which way you’ll bounce. So says the England prop whose colourful career is reflected in this rollicking book covering everything from rituals to red mist, nudity to nicknames. Ghostwriter Rachel Murphy unravels the complex character that is Marler, a player who twice retired from Test rugby and twice changed his mind.BUY NOW from AmazonExe Men, published by PolarisWith immaculate timing comes the definitive history of Exeter Chiefs. Just how did they turn from cliquey meanderers in the mid-1980s to widely loved European champions in 2020? Rob Kitson boards the bus to guide us through their hightailed journey, providing fascinating biogs of key men like Tony Rowe and Rob Baxter. It won’t just be Chiefs fans who lap this up.Read a full review of Exe Men here.BUY NOW from AmazonJames Haskell: What a Flanker, published by HarperCollins“There are a few basic rules to live by as a rugby player,” says the ex-England flanker. “Never trust a team-mate who doesn’t attend team socials, never trust a team-mate who doesn’t front up in a contact session, and never trust a man who showers with his pants on.” Lots of laughs amid the serious stuff from a player who could never be accused of being vanilla.Read a full review of What a Flanker here.BUY NOW from AmazonOur Blood is Green, published by PolarisThe latest instalment from Polaris’s hugely popular history series on international teams. This tells the story of the Springboks in their own words – “We represent something much bigger than we can imagine,” says current captain Siya Kolisi. Dedicated to the late James Small, who was interviewed for the book, and to South African players across the decades. BUY NOW from AmazonJames Hook: Kick-Off, published by PolarisWelsh international James Hook, a father of three, turns his hand to children’s fiction with terrific effect. His debut novel follows a season in the life of primary school youngster Jimmy Joseph and his rugby-mad friends. Be prepared for some villainous behaviour – but will Jimmy overcome such obstacles as he chases his dream? Book one of a series.BUY NOW from AmazonRob Kearney: No Hiding, published by Reach SportA fascinating portrait of one of Irish rugby’s most decorated players – the full-back won two Grand Slams with Ireland, four Heineken European Cups with Leinster and toured twice with the Lions. Kearney’s career didn’t always run smoothly as ghostwriter David Walsh relates. A powerful autobiography that provides insights into the man behind the legend.Read a full review of No Hiding here.BUY NOW from AmazonDylan Hartley: The Hurt, published by VikingThere will be plenty of memoirs to come that focus on the physical and psychological demands on Test players – but few as beautifully written as Hartley’s collaboration with Michael Calvin. The ex-England captain’s autobiography shows us the sport warts and all. “Rugby is great for the soul but terrible for the body,” says the 97-times capped hooker.Read a full review of The Hurt here.BUY NOW from AmazonHard Men of Rugby, published by Y LolfaColin Meads or Bakkies Botha? Jerry Collins or Bobby Windsor? Luke Upton brings a favourite pub discussion to print as he tells the stories behind some of the hardest men to play our sport. Twenty worthy players are profiled although not the man whom referee Nigel Owens, who provides the foreword, says was the hardest of them all… Richie McCaw.Read a full review of Hard Men of Rugby here.BUY NOW from AmazonKen Scotland: The Autobiography, published by PolarisReminders of a bygone age – when Ken Scotland was in the Army, a pie and pint in the NAFFI cost seven and a half pence! The full-back cum stand-off is a top-rank Hall of Famer, starring for Scotland and the 1959 Lions, and at 84 has finally decided to shed light on his wondrous career. He shows the same delicate touch as he did on the field all those decades ago.Read a full review of Ken Scotland’s autobiography here.BUY NOW from AmazonA Break in Mendoza, published by The Endless BookcaseAn inspirational read from a smaller independent publisher. Carl Igolen-Robinson tells the harrowing story of his son Luke, who broke his neck while playing in a school match in faraway Argentina. The book charts a year in Luke’s life as he tries to put his life back together. All royalties from sales go to the RFU Injured Players Foundation.BUY NOW from AmazonSean O’Brien: Fuel, published by SandycoveFrom Bog Lane to Brentford. Seán O’Brien explains his journey from rural County Carlow to big-city life with London Irish, along the way becoming an iconic hard man for Leinster and Ireland. And his Lions try in the first Test of 2017 is one for the ages. Funny to think that if Gaelic football was a professional sport he might never have bothered with rugby… Looking for great rugby books, whether for yourself or as a gift? There was some top rugby literature published in 2020, so here’s a bundle of books worth forking out for Can’t get to the shops? You can download the digital edition of Rugby World straight to your tablet or subscribe to the print edition to get the magazine delivered to your door.Follow Rugby World on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.