Book review: Rugby Warrior

Rugby Book 1

Gerard Siggins’s Rugby Warrior charts the rise of rugby star Eoin Madden as he battles new responsibilities, deals with the friction amongst his friends and tries to solve the mystery of a deceased Irish-born rugby star.

Rugby Warrior begins in an open field as Eoin Madden, a 13-year-old rugby novice, kicks a rugby ball in the fictional town of Ormondstown. “You’re kicking well,” his grandfather, Dixie Madden, remarks as Eoin tries to make the ball miss a pile of cow manure.

Eoin is at that moment of change in life, he’s leaving behind primary school and embarking on a secondary education at the fictional private school Castlerock College, in Dublin. But if you think this is going to be a story about one boy’s struggle in school, you’re wrong. The themes of this book are quite expansive ranging from friendship, rugby, loss, adversity and even ghosts.

The main narrative of the book revolves around Eoin’s research of a non-fictional rugby legend, Dave Gallaher, who died during World War I. So begins a whirlwind investigation by Eoin to discover who this player is and, more importantly, why he is reappearing to him on a regular basis. All of this is happening while Eoin is trying to balance acting as the captain of the U14s rugby team at Castlerock and dealing with a fractious friendship between two of his friends, Dylan and Rory.

Siggins seems to have an appetite for paranormal-related themes – he touched on it in Rugby Spirit where we are first introduced to Eoin – and utilises it with great effect in this publication. The overall writing style is fluid and easy to read, making Rugby Warrior more than just another book about sport or cow manure.

Rugby Warrior is available from The O’Brien Press for €7.99

Reviewed by Liam Cahill