2015 was a great year for books written about sport and the myriad players both on the field and behind the scenes.
This was also the year of the Rugby World Cup, which inspired a host of books on the legendary players, captains and teams that have represented South Africa on the world stage.
From cricket to cycling, from surfing to golf, you will not run out of ideas on what to buy your sports-loving family this Christmas.
Here are 15 books about sport from 2015:
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1. Defining Moments At The Crease
Who will ever forget Mark Boucher punching the sky after scoring the winning runs in the “438” game against Australia? Or when Makhaya Ntini took five wickets at Lords and knelt down to kiss the hallowed turf?
Defining Moments At the Crease commemorates the extraordinary journey travelled by the Proteas since readmission to world cricket in 1991 and is filled with the finest photographs that capture the triumphs and tragedies on the cricket field.
2. The Springbok Captains
The Springbok rugby captain, over more than a century, has represented many things to many South Africans. He has united, and he has divided. He has thrilled, he has disappointed. He has inspired, he has disheartened. He has triumphed, he has failed. But he has always had an impact.
In this revealing narrative, Edward Griffiths and Stephen Nell depict the men who have been able to call themselves “Springbok Captain” through their backgrounds, triumphs and disappointments. Relive the heyday of rugby legends Bennie Osler, Danie Craven, Hennie Muller, Johan Claassen, Naas Botha, Francois Pienaar, Gary Teichmann, Joost van der Westhuizen, Andre Vos and others.
Now fully updated with the accounts of Bobby Skinstad, Victor Matfield and Jean de Villiers, The Springbok Captains is the epic story that lies at the heart of South African rugby.
3. Springbok Rugby Quiz
Which Springbok match saw the least number of spectators ever attending a test match?
Who was the unofficial arm-wrestling champion in the Springbok side on the 1981 tour to New Zealand?
Which Springbok lock played with a glass eye?
Welcome to the ultimate rugby quiz book for real rugby fans! Springbok Rugby Quiz examines the lore of rugby in an unusually entertaining way: it comprises 1001 questions and answers. Rugby lovers can now enjoy some of the most outlandish anecdotes, as well as cold, hard facts and statistics, about this game we all love.
4. I Ran For My Life
Kabelo Mabalane, number one self-proclaimed “pantsula for life”, shares his journey and insights, from being a multi-platinum-selling musician, through the highs and lows of drug addiction, to finding hope and life again through running (eight Comrades Marathons and counting) and his faith.
In I Ran for My Life, this 10-time SAMA award-winner, TV presenter, athlete and entrepreneur talks about growing up between Soweto and the suburbs, the back story behind his phenomenal music career, and how getting into running literally saved his life. Along with his lessons for life, Kabelo shares his thoughts and advice on staying in shape, being prepared for anything and how to build a spirit of endurance in everything you do.
5. The South African Bike Book
If you love cycling and want to learn more about this sport, then The South African Bike Book & Events Guide is for you.
Cycling is a complex sport and if you want to improve your abilities, whether it is just to make it to the top of your nearest hill without stopping, or whether to win a champion race, cycling takes dedication and sacrifice.
In this book we give you everything you need to equip yourself to become the best cyclist you can be.
6. 50 Years of South African Rugby
Springbok rugby over the past 50 years has been part of a continuing story of South Africa, moving from apartheid to democracy. Its story has been told on the front as well as the back pages of the Sunday Times, by many fine sportswriters, whose five decades of reporting form the basis of this book.
50 Years of South African Rugby is a free, downloadable e-book and contains all of the major stories from the Springbok frontline, where green-and-gold heroes often overcame huge odds – as they did in 1965, and again in 1995 – to triumph over old enemies.
7. Errol Tobias: Pure Gold
When Errol Tobias was selected for the Springbok rugby team there was an immediate uproar. He became our first black Springbok in 1980 – in the middle of South Africa’s isolation from international sport and growing protest action against the government.
In Errol Tobias: Pure Gold he talks openly about his sporting career: from childhood to the great moments in the green and gold. Here are the joys, the losses, and the controversy.
8. South Africa’s Greatest Batsmen
South Africa has produced some of the best batsmen in the world, with AB de Villiers and Hashim Amla dominating the recent ICC rankings. Previous teams and generations have included their own legends. But who are the greatest of them all?
Following the success of their book Jacques Kallis and 12 Other Great South African All-Rounders, Ali Bacher and David Williams now turn their attention to South Africa’s top batsmen.
9. Deliberate Concealment
Mtutuzeli Nyoka grew up loving and playing the game of cricket. In 2008, he was appointed as the president of Cricket South Africa (CSA), a position he held until October 2011 when, after a protracted battle with the CSA board, he was dismissed. However, he continued to call for a commission of inquiry into irregularities in CSA. And when retired Judge Chris Nicholson conducted an investigation into CSA, his findings on the corruption and maladministration in the game were damning, particularly in terms of Gerald Majola.
In Deliberate Concealment, Nyoka shares his behind-the-scenes experiences and personal journey as events unfolded, including his own mistakes, the repercussions of the scandal on the game of cricket in South Africa, and his fight for the truth to prevail.
10. South Africa’s Rugby Legends
South Africa’s Rugby Legends celebrates those players who have become truly immortal in the eyes of their fans – the greatest South African rugby players of the amateur years.
This beautifully illustrated book covers the immense achievements of those players who ran out against the mighty All Blacks, the cunning Aussies and the fiery Welsh, among others, and played their way into rugby folklore. These are the best of the best, the players who make you say, “Those were the days!”
Stoked! is an inspiring true story about courage, determination and the power of dreams. Chris Bertish was a skinny little kid from Cape Town when he started surfing with his brothers. Fiercely driven and constantly pushing his boundaries, Chris was not content with conquering “ordinary” big waves. He wanted more: bigger waves, bigger swells, more adrenaline. What began as a personal quest to prove to himself that he was one of the best in the “big-wave brotherhood” culminated a decade later with Chris being crowned South Africa’s first Mavericks BigWave Champion. Competitors in the 2010 event were faced with the biggest and heaviest waves ever recorded in the history of the sport and Chris, on his own budget, on the back of a 40-hour plane journey and on borrowed equipment, outsmarted and outperformed the world’s best-paid professional surfers.
12. Empire, War & Cricket in South Africa
Cecil John Rhodes once said he had only met two creators in South Africa: himself and James Douglas Logan, the Scottish-born founder of Matjiesfontein. Empire, War & Cricket in South Africa explores in detail how Matjiesfontein was created and how Logan developed this little Karoo town into a renowned health resort, attracting the rich and famous – including the likes of South African novelist Olive Schreiner and England cricketer George Lohmann.
But above all, this is the untold story of how James Logan was instrumental in developing the game of cricket in South Africa at a time when the country was heading towards war with the British Empire.
13. The Greatest Springbok Teams
We live and breathe rugby. This book celebrates the Springbok teams that really knew how to pump the air into our rugby lungs – the greatest South African rugby teams ever.
Inside these pages are profiles and statistics of the players and teams who smashed the All Blacks and Australia in their own backyards in 1937, the conquerors of Europe in 1951/52, those who faced the hungry British Lions in 1924, 1980 and 2009, the Boks who lifted the World Cup in 1995 and 2007, plus many other great sides.
14. Tri the Beloved Country
What makes a working mother and average athlete decide to take on a massive physical and mental challenge to run, cycle and kayak the perimeter of South Africa, covering 6 772 km in less than five months? Kim van Kets was inspired by her desire to demonstrate to her daughter the fact that mothers are heroes too. Married to adventurer, Peter van Kets (two times Atlantic Rower and only African to have rowed solo across any ocean and one of the few South Africans to have trekked to the South Pole, detailed in his book The Eight Summit), she was able to justify the “time-out” after having built up a credit balance of 150 days owed to her by her husband.
15. Papwa: In the Grip of a Champion
Sewsunker “Papwa” Sewgolum (1930–1978) was a South African golfer who carved a niche for himself in golfing folklore when he became the first golfer of colour to win a provincial open in South Africa (in 1963). Sewgolum, a former caddie, with his wrong-way-round grip (left hand beneath his right), beat 103 white golfers in the Natal Open at the Durban Country Club. He became a symbol of the sports boycott movement when pictures of him receiving his trophy outdoors in the rain, because, due to apartheid, he was not allowed to enter the clubhouse, were published across the world.
Papwa is the story of one man who triumphed again unbelievable odds, only to have his dream snatched from him. Written as fiction, this is a uniquely South African story told by a master storyteller.