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What a Flanker: The funniest sports biography you’ll ever read

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‘Hilarious, and straight talking but also articulate and insightful – I am just hugely fond of this guy’ –Eddie Jones ‘I’d like to be remembered as a player who showed that you can be incredibly professional but also a lot of fun – a bit of a joker in the changing room, but the ultimate competitor on the pitch. That should have been the subtitle of this book, really…’ One of ‘Hilarious, and straight talking but also articulate and insightful – I am just hugely fond of this guy’ –Eddie Jones ‘I’d like to be remembered as a player who showed that you can be incredibly professional but also a lot of fun – a bit of a joker in the changing room, but the ultimate competitor on the pitch. That should have been the subtitle of this book, really…’ One of rugby’s most ferocious flankers and biggest characters, James Haskell has had an extraordinary, global experience of the game, having played for the Wasps, Northampton and England, and in New Zealand, France and Japan. After seventeen years and with 77 international caps under his sizeable belt, he has a shitload to say about rugby life – from pitch to pub and everywhere in between.   In What A Flanker, Haskell sheds fresh light on the dynamics and the day-to-day of the game. Whether he’s recalling the most brutal team socials; dispelling the myths surrounding New Zealand’s dominance; introducing his Japanese teammates to manscaping or calling out play-acting in the modern game, no subject is off limits.   Side-splittingly funny and ruthlessly honest, What A Flanker delves into the touring, drinking, training, eating and sometimes unconscionable antics of the professional rugby player. It’s an unforgettable read, even if there are some stories you’d rather forget…


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‘Hilarious, and straight talking but also articulate and insightful – I am just hugely fond of this guy’ –Eddie Jones ‘I’d like to be remembered as a player who showed that you can be incredibly professional but also a lot of fun – a bit of a joker in the changing room, but the ultimate competitor on the pitch. That should have been the subtitle of this book, really…’ One of ‘Hilarious, and straight talking but also articulate and insightful – I am just hugely fond of this guy’ –Eddie Jones ‘I’d like to be remembered as a player who showed that you can be incredibly professional but also a lot of fun – a bit of a joker in the changing room, but the ultimate competitor on the pitch. That should have been the subtitle of this book, really…’ One of rugby’s most ferocious flankers and biggest characters, James Haskell has had an extraordinary, global experience of the game, having played for the Wasps, Northampton and England, and in New Zealand, France and Japan. After seventeen years and with 77 international caps under his sizeable belt, he has a shitload to say about rugby life – from pitch to pub and everywhere in between.   In What A Flanker, Haskell sheds fresh light on the dynamics and the day-to-day of the game. Whether he’s recalling the most brutal team socials; dispelling the myths surrounding New Zealand’s dominance; introducing his Japanese teammates to manscaping or calling out play-acting in the modern game, no subject is off limits.   Side-splittingly funny and ruthlessly honest, What A Flanker delves into the touring, drinking, training, eating and sometimes unconscionable antics of the professional rugby player. It’s an unforgettable read, even if there are some stories you’d rather forget…

30 review for What a Flanker: The funniest sports biography you’ll ever read

  1. 5 out of 5

    David Lewis

    Big into Hask. Very funny and insightful. I saw Rory Best the day after the incident.

  2. 4 out of 5

    A Need to Read

    Not a big Rugby man but this is a nice insight in to the turbulent life of a professional sportsman.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Rutger Gerrits

    Incredibly funny. I love to read books about player who are legends (in Haskell's case, in his own way..) and most of them write their biographies in a complete serious note. This doesn't count for what a wanker... I mean flanker. The book starts off with stories while being wasted, with them almost killing the great Rory Best while doing so. Towards blowing the 2015 world cup to his retirement. And now the guys wants to be a dj? For gods sake. I loved this book, and If you have any interest in Incredibly funny. I love to read books about player who are legends (in Haskell's case, in his own way..) and most of them write their biographies in a complete serious note. This doesn't count for what a wanker... I mean flanker. The book starts off with stories while being wasted, with them almost killing the great Rory Best while doing so. Towards blowing the 2015 world cup to his retirement. And now the guys wants to be a dj? For gods sake. I loved this book, and If you have any interest in rugby, this is a must read.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Maurits Thomson

    Great read! Very well written and full with great stories. The nice thing is that didn't force the book to be in chronological order. It's just devided in subjects he wanted to tell about and then sums up a whole lot of funny, interesting, rough and awkward experiences. Great read! Very well written and full with great stories. The nice thing is that didn't force the book to be in chronological order. It's just devided in subjects he wanted to tell about and then sums up a whole lot of funny, interesting, rough and awkward experiences.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Suzanne Riddell

    Have always like James Haskell but this book reinforces that further. A down to earth look at rugby and his life. Very funny but thought provoking at the same time. Looking forward to another one.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Dan George

    A comical book, interspersed with moments of shock and awe. A great recount of a player who has played amongst the transition of amateurism into professionalism and who will undoubtedly continue to entertain.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Matt Trayner

    A fun read however if, like me, you've been listening to Hask on his various podcasts over the last few years you might recognise a good number of the stories! A fun read however if, like me, you've been listening to Hask on his various podcasts over the last few years you might recognise a good number of the stories!

  8. 4 out of 5

    Matthew Senior

    I have read quite a few rugby autobiographies and they always follow the same pattern & a very formulaic. This is not one of those books. James hits you hard from the very first chapter, this is a book for anyone who has played rugby at any level and tells you how it really is. The core element of the book is the bond between team mates on & off the pitch and the extreme lengths he pushed himself to achieve his potential. A pioneer who left the comfort zone of the Premiership to play all round th I have read quite a few rugby autobiographies and they always follow the same pattern & a very formulaic. This is not one of those books. James hits you hard from the very first chapter, this is a book for anyone who has played rugby at any level and tells you how it really is. The core element of the book is the bond between team mates on & off the pitch and the extreme lengths he pushed himself to achieve his potential. A pioneer who left the comfort zone of the Premiership to play all round the world to improve his game and learn from the best. There is an insight into the politics of the game and how ludicrous & naive the rugby authorities still manage the sport, which makes you wonder how it still thriving. Ultimately this is about James the character, love him or hate him, he tells the most amusing stories of team mates, rugby socials and situations which I believe could only happen to him. A cracking read for anyone loves rugby or wants the truth about what goes on tour, mainly a load of blokes doing dumb stuff whilst drunk and winding each other up for years afterwards!

  9. 5 out of 5

    Peter

    I was not too impressed with the first part of the book lots of laddish stories of typical rugby club escapades. Perhaps it is my age viewing these things from a different perspective. The other part of the book dealing with coaches, players, presures of tours and being a professional player were very interesting. The loyalty to a club and having to make difficult decissions about his career against a lot of advice from friends made the challenge of going abroad and proving himself against the b I was not too impressed with the first part of the book lots of laddish stories of typical rugby club escapades. Perhaps it is my age viewing these things from a different perspective. The other part of the book dealing with coaches, players, presures of tours and being a professional player were very interesting. The loyalty to a club and having to make difficult decissions about his career against a lot of advice from friends made the challenge of going abroad and proving himself against the best players not an easy choice to make but it turned out to be a good move. The difficulties of dealing with the press and online abuse gives an indication of the pressures professional players are under. Also the dilema of what to do when the rugby stops and how that is being dealt with. There were lots of amusing stories along the way and it is no wonder the press followed him closely as it was a good way to get a good story even if some of the facts were not exactly correct. All in all an interesting read.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Amanda

    Loved it! This book is a funny read. Every page is entertaining and I genuinely laughed out loud on a number of occasions. I will admit there are some parts where the men/overgrown children described did some truly questionable acts which challenged my decision to buy the book - 'The rope' was a definite 'WTF am I reading?' moment. However, not to be discouraged, I brushed it off, embraced the absurdity and enjoyed the giggles (and dick references! 🍆) You don't need to be a diehard rugby fan to e Loved it! This book is a funny read. Every page is entertaining and I genuinely laughed out loud on a number of occasions. I will admit there are some parts where the men/overgrown children described did some truly questionable acts which challenged my decision to buy the book - 'The rope' was a definite 'WTF am I reading?' moment. However, not to be discouraged, I brushed it off, embraced the absurdity and enjoyed the giggles (and dick references! 🍆) You don't need to be a diehard rugby fan to enjoy this book. I am by no means a huge rah rah fan. Truth be told I had to Google James Haksall as I had no idea who the bloke is. I'm glad I took the plunge as this book tells the story of a rugby players life using hilarious stories. It gave me a new insight into professional sports and changed my opinion of the players and the weird little word they operate in. Give it a go. (Thanks Hask for the entertainment.)

  11. 5 out of 5

    Josh Lewis

    A great character in the world of rugby. You learn a lot about what hides beneath in this book and thats good to see. A hard worker both on and off the pitch. Some hysterical stories (some of which you'll have heard before if a fan of his podcasts) and rarely throws anyone under the bus (top bloke!) I think the book lends itself to a future one with even more honest stories that may have been too soon to talk about in this one. A great stocking filler which will have you laughing from start to e A great character in the world of rugby. You learn a lot about what hides beneath in this book and thats good to see. A hard worker both on and off the pitch. Some hysterical stories (some of which you'll have heard before if a fan of his podcasts) and rarely throws anyone under the bus (top bloke!) I think the book lends itself to a future one with even more honest stories that may have been too soon to talk about in this one. A great stocking filler which will have you laughing from start to end.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Simon

    James has written a very honest autobiography, which I feel doesn’t happen as often as we may think or like. I do listen to his podcasts so a lot of the stories were not new to me but he adds a spin on a lot of them. I found the nature of his relationships with a lot of the coaches very interesting and the travels he had playing around the world. There still aren’t many players in the UK who have played in as many places that he has. I am sure he will be just as successful in life after rugby and James has written a very honest autobiography, which I feel doesn’t happen as often as we may think or like. I do listen to his podcasts so a lot of the stories were not new to me but he adds a spin on a lot of them. I found the nature of his relationships with a lot of the coaches very interesting and the travels he had playing around the world. There still aren’t many players in the UK who have played in as many places that he has. I am sure he will be just as successful in life after rugby and wish him all the luck with it.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Mr Michael R Stevens

    Outstanding. The opening chapter left me thinking “what’s this about” but as you get into the book it becomes harder to put down. The genuine ‘laugh out loud’ moments come thick and fast, there is a good thread of humour running through the book. James Haskell comes across as a bit of a rogue in the sense that although a team sport participant he did things his way. His many achievements are self deprecatingly included but he should be remembered not only as a great player but a bit of a pioneer Outstanding. The opening chapter left me thinking “what’s this about” but as you get into the book it becomes harder to put down. The genuine ‘laugh out loud’ moments come thick and fast, there is a good thread of humour running through the book. James Haskell comes across as a bit of a rogue in the sense that although a team sport participant he did things his way. His many achievements are self deprecatingly included but he should be remembered not only as a great player but a bit of a pioneer. Great book and I hope just the first instalment.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Mancman

    I’m not a rugby fan, and picked this up on a whim. It’s engaging, and there are plenty of fascinating anecdotes and stories. I struggled a lot with the rugby talk, and I think not having that knowledge marred my experience of the book, but it’s refreshing to see a memoir with no punches pulled. There are plenty of elements to inspire young readers, and I came away from the book with a good, positive feeling.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Jonathan Lack

    Such an enjoyable and insightful look at one of rugby’s most unique players. He was always a great player to watch and coupled with his life in the media, podcast and everything else he has turned his eyes towards, there is so much to unpack. He does it really well and it very much reads in his own voice. Typically for Haskell, he never holds back. Loved hearing his opinions on the various coaches and players that have been a part of my favourite sport. It’s a must read for rugby fans.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Bill McFadyen

    I came to this book with low expectations - I thought that James Haskell was a great rugby player who hit the headlines for all the wrong reasons. What a Flanker has shown him to be a man of many parts and he cannot be criticised for not putting 100% into what ever he targets. The book is a quarter’telling tales out of school’ and three quarters an insight into how to make the most of opportunities. I will look to give James the benefit of my doubts in the future and may explore his podcasts.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Peter Hatt Lipscomb

    Loved the book, I feel I have much more of an insight to Hack than I had before I thought this was a thought entertaining read. A different memoir than your normal sportsmans history. I enjoyed it, I enjoyed getting to know the man behind the shirt. I admire his dedication and perseverance. I wish I had half his talent drive and ambition.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Steve Brown

    A really good read about a really underrated sportsman. Great to hear the stories but even more to hear the honesty and frustration of his career not filtered through the press. He has a great understanding and passion for his sport that really comes through, and his loyalty to his club and country, despite all his detractors, is there to see.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Tom Harding

    Growing up as a lover of Rugby, from playing to spectating it has been my life... James was a rising start as I was growing up, and this is such a fun and brilliant insight to the corruption, brutality and competitive world these athletes live. Like a scrum, the book crashes, collapses, pushes and forces its way to the try line.. I laughed, gasped and loved reading this story.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Paul Goodison

    The Hask tells his story in his own inimitable way. And tries to show he is just a normal guy. Whilst the main thrust is easy reading, rugby banter, there are some serious and subtle points made. Worth a read if only to get his side of the story. I suspect there will be a volume two in later years, if only to find out who made the decision not to kick for the posts against Wales...

  21. 4 out of 5

    Joshua Green

    A truly insightful look into professional (and occasionally unprofessional) sports. Anyone who wants to understand team building and man management at elite levels of sport (not just rugby) then this is probably a must read. Haskell regales us with stories and anecdotes that make your biggest night out seem like a garden party with Princess Anne. I haven’t laughed this much from a book in years.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Lee Williams

    I thought it was brilliant and I actually spat my coffee out. I only got the book because I had listened to a few clips from the old House of Rugby podcast, so this was all new informaiton to me, and in addition to spitting my coffee out there were tears of laughter running down my cheeks from the stories within.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Lauren Walker

    What a brilliant, insightful, funny and enjoyable book to read. I didnt know too much about the negative press he had received through his career, but this book is honest and shows what a likeable guy he really is.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Mat Davies

    Highly entertaining memoir from one of England rugby’s more colourful characters. Packed with anecdotes and insight, the Haskell that emerges is more thoughtful, erudite and appealing than the media sometimes had him portrayed. Worth your time, rugby fans

  25. 5 out of 5

    Stephen Casey

    The bits between the rugby-team schoolboy lout are interesting. I think Haskell lands in a middle ground between woke and misogynist, but I bet he doesn't realise it's much closer to the latter. Makes for a slightly painful read at times, feels like you've contributed to the proceeds of crime. The bits between the rugby-team schoolboy lout are interesting. I think Haskell lands in a middle ground between woke and misogynist, but I bet he doesn't realise it's much closer to the latter. Makes for a slightly painful read at times, feels like you've contributed to the proceeds of crime.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Joseph Walters

    Rugby Legend and Top bloke A true and honest look into a rugby players life in which he has worked so hard to forge a top quality career. Some really interesting stories and a great read.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Matt

    A bit rambling and think I was expecting more about rugby whereas it was more about his personality, pranks and antics. Enjoyable enough and funny but more like a series of magazine articles than a solid autobiography.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Russ Thomas

    Haskell was, is and will always be a clown of embarrassingly dim proportions. He cannot put 2 words together and this "book" adequately shows that despite the obvious assistance of a 9 year old! Had to put it down due to boredom. Thankfully got it for 10p in a book sale. Waste of time! Haskell was, is and will always be a clown of embarrassingly dim proportions. He cannot put 2 words together and this "book" adequately shows that despite the obvious assistance of a 9 year old! Had to put it down due to boredom. Thankfully got it for 10p in a book sale. Waste of time!

  29. 4 out of 5

    Vicki Richards

    Funny, honest and enjoyable.

  30. 4 out of 5

    John Peden

    Really enjoyed this. Some great insights into Hask's experiences during the 2011 and 2015 World Cups as well as his career in the Premiership and abroad. Obviously plenty of humour throughout. Really enjoyed this. Some great insights into Hask's experiences during the 2011 and 2015 World Cups as well as his career in the Premiership and abroad. Obviously plenty of humour throughout.

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