Front Up, Rise Up: The Official Story of Connacht Rugby
by Gerry Thornley
For years they were the Cinderella province, the poor relations and the weakest link in Irish rugby, the so-called Development Province, who had never won a senior trophy since their foundation in 1885. There had been the first green shoots of a revolution in 2014-15 when finishing seventh in the Pro12 - a record high - in Pat Lam’s second season as head coach. Even so, they started the 2015-16 season as 50/1 outsiders.
Front Up, Rise Up is the story of Connacht’s remarkable journey to becoming the Pro12 champions. The story goes inside the dressing-room, takes in their unscheduled, week-long, bonding trek to Siberia and back for a European Challenge Cup game in November, and all the key twists and turns along the way.
It brings us the characters in this Band of Brothers, from the locals such as captain John Muldoon from Portumna to their iconic fans’ favourite Bundee Aki, like Lam a Kiwi from Auckland of Samoan descent, to their Nigerian-born and Dublin-raised match-winner Niyi Adeolokun.
It takes in their troubled professional history, which had them on the brink of extinction as a professional entity in 2003 and led to Connacht and their supporters marching to the IRFU offices in a successful bid to keep them afloat.
And it culminates in their dethroning of the champions Glasgow in the Sportsground in Galway and their stunning performance in the final against Leinster in Edinburgh to their open-top homecoming in Galway the next day. In the 21 years of professional rugby, there has been no story quite like it.
A great story, brilliantly told.
Matt Cooper (The Last Word, Today FM)
A hell of a yarn, told with precision and élan.
Malachy Clerkin (Books of the Year, Irish Times)