Rugby World Cup reading: Bomb by Adam Jones

September 24, 2015, Article by Tom in Books, Sport

With the 2015 Rugby World Cup up and running, now’s the perfect time to invest in some rugger-related reading materials. We’ve got an exclusive extract from Bomb, the autobiography of Wales legend Adam Jones, talking about his first World Cup experience back in 2003…

We flew down under more in hope than expectation, but it was exciting. They love their sport out there, and to take part in a World Cup in such a sports-obsessed country was something I was relishing. It was quite the start to my test career.

Scott Johnson is as Australian as they come, and wanted us to embrace the culture and history of the place. He’d arranged for a famous Australian to speak to us prior to every game. First up was Andrew Johns, the Rugby League player regarded by many as the best ever. People of a certain generation in Wales consider Rugby League to be the sport of the devil, as we lost a golden generation of players to the code during Rugby Union’s amateur era. But it’s always been a guilty pleasure of mine, and I was one of the few who knew who Johns was. Our analyst, Alun Carter, had put together a video montage of him which was played before his talk, and that left our boys in no doubt as to the scope of his talent.

He was a little dwt of a bloke, but didn’t take any prisoners on the field. Johnno’s idea was that we’d get a sense of the level of professionalism adopted by the League boys, and that some of it would rub off. But Andrew wasn’t exactly on message. He’d played in a few State of Origin series – where Queensland and New South Wales play each other. It’s a massive deal in Australia. The stadiums are always packed, and the TV viewing figures are off the scale. Gareth Llewellyn asked a question about prepara- tion, because they’re effectively scratch sides pulled together according to their ‘state of origin’. Andrew explained that they basically get together and go on the piss. They’ll meet on a Sunday night and go out drinking. Then they meet up on Monday morning and go on an all-day drinking session. On the Tuesday, they’ll be too hungover to do anything other than run through a few moves. And then on Wednesday they play the game.

We could see Hansen and Horey sinking into their seats. They’d spent so long instilling a sense of discipline into us, and trying to transform the culture of the Welsh changing room. And here was this uber-professional Rugby League guy telling us they prepared for the biggest matches of their season by going on a two-day bender! Probably not the kind of inspirational message the Welsh management were hoping for.

We played Canada first, in Melbourne. As much as a loose-head prop can be called a talisman, Rod Snow was theirs. We knew him well from his days at Newport, and we knew if we put a few big hits on him early, it would dent the morale of the team as a whole. We’d noticed during our analysis that he stood out in the wide channels a lot as ball carrier, which is very unusual for a big prop. Steve Hansen challenged the boys to see who could make the biggest hit on him. Robin McBryde accepted the gauntlet and absolutely smoked him early on.

It set the tone for a comfortable victory, and we were up and running.

Bomb: My Autobiography by Adam Jones is out now in hardback and ebook


 Other rugby books for the World Cup season…

  • My Autobiography by Dan Carter – out this November, this is the story of a country boy who went on to become rugby’s world superstar
  • Carry Me Home by Ben Cohen – a very deep and personal story, with Cohen discussing how he put all of the anger and pain from his father’s death into his rugby
  • Jonny: My Autobiography by Jonny Wilkinson – a classic read from a few years ago, with the World Cup hero telling all about his career (including that drop goal in 2003)