The Booktopia XV: A British Lions Tour Special from Andrew Cattanach

by |June 6, 2013

With the British Lions Tour already upon us, Booktopia’s Andrew Cattanach thought it only proper to look at our literary immortals from a slightly more sporting perspective.

Ladies and Gentleman please be up and standing for the Booktopia XV.


Fullback: William Shakespeare

A fullback needs to be able to survey the play and pick their time to pop into the front line and inject themselves. Invariably a student of the game but with undeniable talent, the crowd roars when the fullback is in play, an extra man presenting an overlap and opportunities out wide for the crowd to see some beautiful action.

A fullback is often called three men in one, able to create a variety of plays with aplomb, creating the quick spark in attack and the last dour line of defence.

Click here to see William Shakespeare’s full player profile


Right Wing: Ayn Rand

You get the idea. Many a right winger finds themselves pigeon-holed and despite being more comfortable in other positions, are always selected on the right wing because of clouded and complex ideology of right-wing specialists, remaining there for the rest of their career. I’m talking about Rugby. Kind of.

Click here to see Ayn Rand’s full player profile


Outside Centre: Gertrude Stein

Able to read the play and know when to hit the line, an outside centre needs to be quick on their feet and both have the pace to get around opposition, while also possessing the strength to bust through and run clear.

Click here to see Gertrude Stein’s full player profile


Inside Centre: Mark Twain

Also called a second fly-half, a great inside centre combines the skill and intelligence of a fly-half, but also enjoys the open spaces afforded with being a little left of centre. Often an inside centre is a leader when needed, but can also get a bit lippy, be a bit of a rogue when they feel like it.

Click here to see Mark Twain’s full player profile


Left Wing: Karl Marx

Have I not already established my love of the pun with Ayn Rand on the right wing?

Click here to see Karl Marx’s full player profile


Fly-Half: Oscar Wilde

The most skilled footballer and the pin-up boy of the side. Poetry in motion, producing sharp, intelligent, and brilliant plays you’ll want to read again and again.

Opposition will tell you their work borders on the unreadable, such is its audacious intricacy. But you know better, don’t you?

Click here to see Oscar Wilde’s full player profile


Scrum-Half: Dorothy Parker

The best sledger in the side, with the skills to get the glory, and the tenacity to fight with the best of them. Often the heartbeat of the side, and usually is a favourite amongst their teammates.

Click here to see Dorothy Parker’s full player profile


Number 8: Hunter S. Thompson

The gamebreaker, even the best number 8’s can drift in and out of games, such is their mercurial nature. But those games that they’re on, boy, shut the gate because they’ll turn the game on its head in the blink of an eye. Usually a strong carrier who occasionally infringes in tight situations, preferring to play loose and off the cuff rather than follow a structured game plan.

Click here to see Hunter S. Thompson’s full player profile


Openside Flanker: Christina Stead

The player’s player. Hard, disciplined and brilliant from the first whistle to the last. Often doesn’t get the plaudits of other players, but a keen observer will notice their stellar work in close.

Click here to see Christina Stead’s full player profile


Blindside Flanker: Marcel Proust

The pillar of the pack, a blindside flanker rarely has a bad game. Dependable and consistently putting in top rate performances, rarely do critics have a bad word to say about a quality blindside.

Click here to see Marcel Proust’s full player profile


Lock: William Faulkner

Every team needs a lock-forward who is a little off the wall, a little flash of crazy that lurks behind their brilliance. Keen for a fight and a big night, sometimes the greatest locks can appear from nowhere and become household names.

Click here to see William Faulkner’s full player profile


Lock: Virginia Woolf

And to complement the slightly crazed lock-forward, you have the quiet achiever. Often a quiet soul prone to bouts of anxiety such are the expectations they put upon themselves, they do the little things, the work in the dark, and when you look back over the highlights you realise just the beautiful precision of their work. Particularly effective at stoppages.

Click here to see Virginia Woolf’s full player profile


Tighthead Prop: Ernest Hemingway

The master of the tight, the economical, the unbending. A tighthead prop has the technique and the strength to twist and turn a scrum at will, using only the most delicate of movement. With so much on their plate rarely is the tighthead the official leader of the pack, but always the father figure, or ‘Papa’, if you like.

Click here to see Ernest Hemingway’s full player profile


Hooker: Franz Kafka

A quiet, often odd, leader in a discipline few can understand, let alone master. Why would you want to throw a ball into a 50/50 contest over and over again, only to be berated when you lose said 50/50 contest? Why would you want to be front and centre of a scrum, with a ton of weight driving into you?

The world of the hooker is a strange, strange place. And only the most extraordinary mind, with a penchant for the macabre can thrive in that world.

Click here to see Franz Kafka’s full player profile


Loosehead Prop: Vladimir Nabokov

Usually mad as a hatter, a loosehead prop lacks the discipline to play on the other side of the scrum, yet still has the ability to surprise with nuanced, circumspect play against all your expectations.

The enforcer of the side with a twinkle in their eye that often has reporters running the other way. Often a back-rower who through size and strength finds themselves in the front-row, much to their chagrin.

Click here to see Vladimir Nabokov’s full player profile


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About the Contributor

Andrew Cattanach is a regular contributor to The Booktopia Blog. He has been shortlisted for The Age Short Story Prize and was named a finalist for the 2015 Young Bookseller of the Year Award. He enjoys reading, writing and sleeping, though finds it difficult to do them all at once.

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