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Southern Comfort
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Sport, Sport
Publication Date
01 September 2011
Hardback (also available as an eBook)
Available for Sale
Birlinn Limited

Southern Comfort

The Story of Borders Rugby

Foreword by David Campese

by Neil Drysdale - Find out more about the author


eBook also available from the iBookstore

'Meticulously researched … an informative and comprehensive account' – The Scotsman

'A cracking read' – Bill Lothian, Edinburgh Evening News

'An excellent read,' - John Rutherford

'Brilliant insights,' - The Telegraph

For the last 140 years, the south of Scotland has been a powerhouse of rugby union. Despite the area’s small population, it has produced clubs in the mould of Hawick, Gala and Melrose, whose names are known wherever the sport is played. And from these organisations has sprung a sublime string of world-class players, which includes the likes of Jim Telfer and Hugh McLeod, John Rutherford and Roy Laidlaw, Jim Renwick and John Jeffrey, Craig Chalmers and Gary Armstrong. Showing invention and innovation the Borders bequeathed the game of Sevens to the world, and individuals such as Telfer were at the forefront of Scotland’s twin Grand Slams in 1984 and 1990, and the British and Irish Lions’ success in South Africa in 1997.

In this seminal work, Neil Drysdale investigates the way that the Borders developed into one of rugby’s most famous heartlands and examines the impact which the South has made on the game since Langholm came into being in 1871. Including interviews with many of the leading protagonists, including Telfer, Rutherford, Laidlaw, Renwick, Chalmers, Colin Deans, Doddie Weir and the most-capped Scotsman in rugby history, Chris Paterson, Southern Comfortpaints a vivid picture of how the South thrived on the mustard-keen rivalry between their communities, bolstered by pioneering individuals with radical ideas, whose efforts were complemented by the peerless tones of ‘The Voice of Rugby’, Bill McLaren, who spread the union gospel to every corner of the globe.

It is a heart-warming tale of local heroes venturing onto grander stages without forgetting their roots, blazing a thrilling trail, and it is a commemoration to the Herculean labours of characters such as McLaren and Telfer.

To hear an interview with Neil and former players Gary Armstrong and John Rutherford at the launch of the book, click here.

Neil Drysdale has been involved in journalism since the late 1980s when he began writing for Scotland on Sunday. Since then, he has covered many of sport’s biggest events, including the 1995 Rugby World Cup in South Africa and the 2000 Sydney Olympics, and has watched Scotland’s rugby team achieve heroic victories and suffer agonising defeats from Edinburgh to Dunedin and Pretoria to the Parc des Princes. He has written several books, including the best-selling biography of the Scotland and Rangers manager, Walter Smith, an acclaimed biography of the motor racing star Dario Franchitti, and a much-praised account of Freuchie’s march to Lord’s in 1985. He currently writes for the Herald and lives in Aberdeen with his wife, Dianne.

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