Murrayfield, the Calcutta Cup, March 1990. England vs. Scotland - winner-takes-all for the Five Nations Grand Slam, the biggest prize in northern hemisphere rugby. Will Carling's England are the very embodiment of Margaret Thatcher's Britain - snarling, brutish and all-conquering. Scotland are the underdogs - second-class citizens from a land that's become the testing ground for the most unpopular tax in living memory: Thatcher's Poll Tax. Fifteen men in blue jerseys are plotting the downfall of the English oppressors. In Edinburgh, nationalism is rising high - what happens in the stadium will resound far beyond the pitch.
The Grudge brilliantly recaptures a day that has gone down in history as a great day for Scotland. This is the real story of an extraordinary game, told with astounding insight and almost unprecedented access to key players, coaches and supporters on both sides (Will Carling, Ian McGeechan, Brian Moore and the rest). Tom English has produced a gripping account of a titanic struggle that thrusts the reader right into the heart of the action. Game on.
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I enjoyed this book enormously. The match is one of my enduring rugby memories, and reading The Grudge it all came flooding back -
The finest book written on the tournament ... English has produced an absolutely outstanding work, weaving in the strands of history, politics, sociology, dislike and tactical nous, which makes the game probably the most remarkable ever played in the grand old tournament. The insights provided into the minds and roles of Jim Telfer and Brian Moore are worth the price alone - The Times
Superb ... a fantastic drama. The Grand Slam match was part of a political world ... This is what gave the occasion its power, its glory and its ultimate significance - The Herald
Gripping ... Tom English has interviewed all the main protagonists to produce a richly textured picture of the build-up, the day itself and the aftermath - Independent
5 stars. An epic tale of clashing personalities. The Grudge puts you right on the touchline as the English and Scottish teams go to war. - Daily Telegraph
English has written a marvellous book, in its way as gripping as that season and the match itself - Scottish Review of Books
A potentially award-winning book. It's a terrific bit of work, as engaging as the day itself was. - Daily Telegraph
A remarkable and compulsive re-enactment over 235 pages of the day Scotland confounded all expectation to win -
A priceless read ... quite outstanding - The Guardian
If you haven't bought Tom English's book about the 1990 match - The Grudge - then do yourself a favour and get it now. It's terrific - Spectator
Tom English's excellent book, The Grudge, revisits an occasion when sport and politics and ancient rivalry came together - Daily Mail
True tales: great stuff - The Guardian
Shudderingly good ... English has a rare talent for getting to the core of a person - Rugby World
Tom English was born in Limerick in 1969. He began his career at the Sunday Times and is now chief sports writer for Scotland on Sunday. In 2007, 2008 and 2009 he was named Scottish Sports Feature Writer of the Year. He lives in Stirlingshire with his wife and two children.