The Men in the Arena

‘A splendid re-telling of English rugby’s most celebrated story. Cracking stuff from start to finish’  – Robert Kitson, The Guardian

‘Sensational. For those who screamed and celebrated in 2003, this book is as good as it gets’ – Alex Payne, The Good, the Bad and the Rugby

‘Highly recommended. A deep dive into one of the best-known rivalries between two rugby nations when both were at the peak of their powers. Great stuff. A fantastic, exciting read’ – Rob Robertson, The Daily Mail

‘A brilliant book’ – Chris Jones, BBC Sport

‘Another absolute classic’ – Paul Williams

'This partnership always produces gold' – Hugh MacDonald, The Herald

‘exceptional . . . for sheer quality on both sides the 2003 final stands alone and the personalities on both teams are absolutely fascinating. Go read’ – Andy Burke, BBC Sport


From 1997 to 2003 England and Australia battled for domination of the rugby world in one of the greatest rivalries the sport has ever known. In The Men in the Arena, William Hill shortlisted authors Peter Burns and Tom English delve to the very heart of both teams’ journey to the 2003 Rugby World Cup final, telling the story primarily in the words of the protagonists at the centre of the battle.

Featuring exclusive new interviews with players and coaches from both teams plus an array of superstars who faced them from New Zealand, Ireland, France, Wales and beyond, this is the inside story like it has never been told before. 


Published August 2023


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