War games, Ron Palenski

War Blacks: The Extraordinary Story of New Zealand’s World War 1 All Blacks
Matt Elliott
HarperCollins, $45.00,
ISBN 9781775540366

Tom Ellison has a lot to answer for. One of the early All Blacks of erudition and original thought, he wrote a small book in 1902 in which he described rugby as a soldier-making game. Here was the link, some people thought, and all the more emphatic because it came from a practitioner’s pen: rugby is a game that prepares young men for war. Here was tangible evidence which another original thinker, but a cricketer rather than a rugby player, George Orwell, was able to put into his articulate words more than 40 years later when he described international sport as war without the shooting.

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