The First Lions of Rugby - visit publisher's page to purchaseTHE FIRST LIONS OF RUGBY

With a captain from one of rugby league’s founding clubs, a majority of Northern Englishmen in the team, and a reputation for being rebels, the 1888 British touring side deserves to be remembered as the forerunner of the famous Great Britain rugby league tourists.” Tony Collins, English RL historian/author

The captivating story of the first British Lions and their history-making rugby and Aussie rules playing tour of Australia and New Zealand. An epic eight month, 54-games expedition of high drama, personal tragedy and great adventures in the Victorian era of Sherlock Holmes, Jules Verne and Jack the Ripper.

The tour and the treatment of the players, many of whom were from clubs in Yorkshire and Lancashire, was the trigger that opened a rift so wide, that it led to the founding of rugby league.

Renowned rugby codes historian Sean Fagan tells a thrilling story in these pages – one that is based on hundreds of hours of research of archives in Australia, New Zealand and Great Britain, during which he meticulously uncovered the lost and enthralling tale of a band of rugby missionaries of so long ago.

“Superbly written & brilliantly researched, The First Lions of Rugby is a must-read for anyone interested in the history of rugby, rugby league & AFL. It is simply the best book about a football tour ever-written.” — Tony Collins, English RL historian/author


The First Lions of Rugby by Sean Fagan.
Paperback 304 pages plus 8 pages of glossy b&w photos/drawings; match results table, post tour timeline 1888-1914; 1888-written guides to playing rules of rugby & Aust rules.
Published by Slattery Media 2013. ISBN 978-0-9875002-7-4. Order from book shops/websites in Australia.
Download at Apple iTunes
Ordering from UK or USA try Abebooks

Purchase Centenary Edition of The Rugby Rebellion (Pioneers of Rugby League)THE RUGBY REBELLION

“Its revelation is fascinating.” — The Sydney Morning Herald

In its second print run (re-titled as Pioneers of Rugby League), this now iconic book has been acclaimed by historians and supporters of both rugby codes.

In a revealing and entertaining way it retraces how rugby became so popular and successful in Australia by 1907, that the game itself came to be fought over in a dramatic and bitter battle between League and Union.

The book explores every significant moment in rugby league’s founding era in Australia.

Read in detail how the rebel movement began, the birth of its clubs and the signing of its first star players, its early fight for survival, what the game was like to play and watch, when the Kangaroos played the Wallabies, why Balmain forfeited to the Rabbitohs, and how rugby league battled through from near collapse and financial ruin to become the favourite winter sport after just three seasons.

“Revelations of biblical proportions for rugby (league and union) tragics – continually springing surprises in the style of a real-life thriller.” — The Illawarra Mercury


The Rugby Rebellion by Sean Fagan.
Paperback 432 pages, b&w photos throughout, bonus statistics/tables & extra articles.
Pioneers of Rugby League (The Rugby Rebellion) is available to order via book shops Australia wide (distributed by Dennis Jones & Associates – refer ISBN 9780975756300).

Buy now for $14.95 via or BookSourceOnline or QBD
In NZ try MightyApe
UK published edition available via London League Publications



The Master - The Life and Times of Dally Messenger THE MASTER – THE LIFE & TIMES OF DALLY MESSENGER

“A very worthwhile read.” — Inside Sport

Dally Messenger was an Australian sporting superstar in the early years of the 20th century – a rugby league immortal, rugby union champion, and the most popular sporting personality of his day. He represented the Kangaroos in rugby league, the Wallabies in rugby union, and also played for New Zealand in the 13-man code.

Thousands of fans in Australia, England and Wales flocked to footy grounds when he was playing, and he his still revered as an icon in both codes to this very day. The son of a professional rower, he led the push for footballers to be allowed to fairly share in the financial profits of the game.

The Master is a popular and authoritative account of the life and times of a superlative sportsman, a tribute to a footballer without peer, and an inspiring story for all those who would marvel at this sporting excellence and outstanding achievements.

“Magnificently written and a must for anyone that wants to know about one of the greatest players ever.” — Rugby League Review
Paperback 396 pages, 8 page insert of glossy b&w photos, career statistics, longest drop & place kicks. Published by Hachette Australia 2007. ISBN: 9780733622007.
Order from book shops/websites in Australia, or download via Apple iTunes store or Amazon Kindle
Search at Abebooks for used copies.

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