Fringes: Life on the Edge of Professional Rugby

Price: $9.26
(as of Jun 27,2021 03:30:28 UTC – Details)

LONGLISTED FOR THE WILLIAM HILL SPORTS BOOK OF THE YEAR PRIZE 2020Sports books tend to detail extraordinary achievements, triumphs against the odds or commemorate World Cup winning captains.

This book does not do that.

For many, playing professional sport is the Dream Job. Few manage it, very few make it to the top and for the rest, life is very different. This is their story. In Fringes, Ben Mercer invites you to witness life at the outer edges of professional rugby.

This is a first hand account of what life is like as a journeyman professional athlete. You play, but to the wider public you don’t exist. You earn but you don’t drive a flash car. You sometimes pack out a stadium but sometimes, you play in a deserted park. This is the story for the majority of sports professionals. Only the minority taste the top, only one person gets to lift the cup or win the medal, only 15 get to play for England at any one time. For the rest, that’s not the case.

Ben Mercer is a former professional rugby player who after becoming disillusioned and uninspired plying his trade in the English Second Division, accepted an offer out of the blue to go to France and do something different – help an amateur team turn professional. This is a first hand account of what life is like in the lower reaches of professional sport – where your employment status is as precarious as your health and barely anyone will know your name.

It’s about how it feels to live year to year, with teammates constantly on the move. It’s about how professionalism irreversibly changes the French club Stade Rouennais as they move up the divisions, about the tension between progress and identity in a rugby team. It’s also about how it feels to actually be out there on the field, how it feels to occasionally do something extraordinary and how it feels when this is no longer enough for you to make the sacrifices that you need to make to keep playing.

There’s no ghostwriting, it’s an unmitigated meditation on how it feels and what it means to play rugby for a living, to dedicate yourself to an uncompromising but occasionally beautiful game.

If you’ve wanted to know what life is really like as a professional athlete, on the Fringes, away from the glitz and glamour of the international game then look no further.

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