Want to find some great books about Harlequins players and the history of the club?
Or maybe you’re looking for a gift for a Quins fan? We’ve reviewed what’s available to give you our best picks.
And we’ve pointed out which books are more for the hardcore nerd in your life.
Our Top Pick
Loosehead prop Joe Marler has written one of the best sports autobiographies I’ve read in recent years.
We have a separate review of Joe Marler’s autobiography that will take you through why I was so entertained and intrigued.
Jason Leonard’s Autobiography
Like Joe Marler, Jason Leonard was a loosehead prop. He occasionally switched over to tighthead in his England career, which is no small feat.
Leonard joined Harlequins in 1990 and was capped for England the same year. He went on to play in four world cups and three Lions tours before he retired in 2004.
But perhaps the main motivation for reading this book is that Leonard’s nickname was “Fun Bus”. You can expect a lot of high jinks and drinking, and you won’t be disappointed.
Amatuer to professional
Leonard gained the moniker of Fun Bus before the advent of professional rugby.
When I first started playing for England, it was practically obligatory to drink as much as you could the night before a game, especially for a forward.
And you’ll learn in the book that just because the sport went professional, players like Leonard didn’t suddenly become monks.
All-time drinking XV
Throughout this book, he puts together his All-Time Drinking XV with plenty of anecdotes to explain his choices.
I wasn’t surprised that Mickey Skinner made the team. But I was amazed that the urbane Jerry Guscott glides into a centre position with his customary poise!
If you want behind-the-scenes exploits of some very famous players for Harlequins, England, and the Lions, then this is the book for you.
Two different books are really the same
But which book? Confusingly, there are two versions of the same book with different titles. So, don’t buy a second Jason Leonard book if you already have a first!
The first edition was published in 2004 when had he had just retired. It’s still available in paperback and hardback. The title is “Jason Leonard: Full Time”.
The more recent edition is available in Kindle format. For some reason, the publishers changed the title to “Jason Leonard: The Autobiography”.
Big characters in the book
Many big characters in English rugby turn up throughout this book. You’ll find anecdotes involving coaches Clive Woodward and Dick Best.
But if you’re a Harlequins fan, you’ll also be looking out for names like Brian Moore and Will Carling. You won’t be disappointed!
And if you want more, both these Quins legends have their own books. Read on…
Brian Moore’s Second Autobiography
You’re spoilt for choice with hooker Brian Moore’s books. As well as collections of essays, Moore has not just one autobiography. He has two!
The first was written with journalist Stephen Jones in 1996 in the year of Moore’s retirement from Harlequins and rugby. It’s available in paperback if you want to get hold of it.
However, I’d advise you to go for the second one, “Beware Of The Dog”. This was published in 2011 and has the benefit of an older Moore looking back with greater self-awareness.
Here’s our brief review.
Beware Of The Dog: Rugby’s Hard Man Reveals All
This autobiography is a classic of sports literature. It won the prestigious William Hill Sports Book Of The Year.
Like Jason Leonard, Moore’s career cross from the amateur years into the professional era.
In his playing days, Moore was one of the most interesting and feared characters on a rugby pitch. His nickname was Pitbull, for reasons that will become clear in the book.
Moore is frank about the darker side of his character and how he used this to fuel his fearsome performances on the pitch.
But the passage of time since his first book allows him to reflect on how it impacted his personal and family life.
Moore opens the book with some harrowing events in his childhood. It’s a brave choice, particularly for a rugby hard man. I applaud him for it.
Moore expresses many strongly-held opinions about life and rugby in this fascinating and well-written book. There are many that I don’t agree with. But that doesn’t make it anything less than a great read.
Can’t get enough of Brian Moore? Here are a few books that I haven’t read.
They’re more like collections of essays. All that I can say is that they will be well-written.
- What Goes On Tour Stays On Tour (2014)
- More Thoughts Of Chairman Moore (2012)
- The Thoughts Of Chairman Moore (2010)
Will Carling’s Autobiography Or Biography
Speaking as an Irish person, it surprises me that Will Carling doesn’t have the same massive profile now as some other retired sports stars.
He was a hugely successful England captain after many years of mediocre results on the field. Carling also played a big part off the field in dragging the RFU into modernity.
Currently, I haven’t been able to find a digitized book about Carling.
So, if you’re looking for a present for the Quins or England fan who has read everything, you might surprise them with the hardback of Will Carling’s autobiography (Amazon link) written in 1998.
Adrian Stoop’s Biography
Did you know that Harlequin’s grounds at The Stoop took its name from a former player and club president?
Yes? Then, you’re a real Harlequins fan and will enjoy this biography of Adrian Stoop (Amazon link).
His story is intertwined with Quins history, and the history of Rugby Union in England.
I must admit that I wasn’t familiar with this great character before I started writing about the history of Harlequins RFC.
Harlequins: The First 150 Years
Do you know someone who is a hardcore Quins supporter? I mean, really hardcore?
Then, this is the gift you’ve been looking for. Rugby nerds who are also Harlequins fans will love it this paperback on the first 150 years of Harlequins RFC (Amazon link).
I’m jesting a little. I drew on it when putting together our potted history of the early days of the club.
If you’re more used to your rugby books being full of high jinks and drinking stories, then this will be a little dry. It’s full of…gasp…facts!