Professor makes history with sports book award

A De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) sports history professor has made history himself after winning a top literary prize for the fourth time.

Professor Tony Collins of the International Centre for Sports History and Culture, has been named this year’s winner of the Lord Aberdare Literary Prize awarded for the best book on sports history.


His book, The Oval World: A Global History of Rugby was the unanimous choice of the judges at the British Society of Sports History.

It looked at the impact of rugby around the world over the past 200 years, from its origins in village games right through to its place on the international stage.

He spent months researching the book using the official archives at Twickenham. He also helped Leicester City Council stage an exhibition showcasing Leicester’s links with the Rugby World Cup, which enjoyed a hugely successful run at Newarke Houses Museum.

Prof Collins previously won the title in 2010, 2007 and 1999 making him the only person to have won the accolade four times.

He said: “'It's a genuine honour to win the Aberdare Prize, and especially because it is awarded by the BSSH. To be selected by a panel of one's academic peers is perhaps the highest accolade a historian can receive.”

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The judges said: “This book was admired for successfully engaging at both an academic and popular level. A genuinely global history, it presents extensive research on the topic in an accessible and well written manner. Its exploration and interlinking of numerous themes across history and geography is deftly handled.

“It is panoramic in scope, ranging from grassroots to elite level rugby for both men and women.  An ambitious project, it is to the author’s credit that is handled in a manner that makes it accessible and highly recommended to both academic and lay audiences.”

Posted on Monday 19th September 2016

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