Tuesday, 11 August 2015 19:26

Limassol rugby community in new book

Malcolm Poulton at Shaka Zulu Bar Malcolm Poulton at Shaka Zulu Bar

With roots in the United Kingdom, Rugby Union is a much-loved sport in many Commonwealth countries – particularly the UK, South Africa, New Zealand and Australia. The game is also enjoying something of a resurgence in its popularity in Cyprus.

Limassol has had its own team, The Limassol Crusaders Rugby Football Club, since 2003 following the example of the Paphos Tigers, founded in the same year. One of the driving forces behind the team’s establishment was British-born rugby fan Malcolm Leonard Poulton.

Recently the members of the Limassol rugby club were surprised to discover that they were characters in Poulton’s new book ‘The Pre-Converted Try’. A retired IT specialist, Poulton has always liked writing and throughout his career wrote all his own presentations to make sure they would be both informative and fun for his audience.

Rugby comedy

His new book is a story set back in the 70s in one of London’s most famous and historic pubs – The Lamb in Lamb’s Conduit Street in Bloomsbury, which was once managed by Malcolm’s father. Filled with eccentric characters and impossible situations, the novel meanders its way through London, South Africa, Cyprus and back again.

As one may guess, Poulton has always liked humour: something that shows in his book which is filled with British humour, satirical jokes and comical situations.

The writer has travelled the world which has allowed him to meet lots of ‘eccentrics’, as he calls them. He wrote his book in order to describe some of the quirky personalities that have crossed his path, setting them in scenarios inspired by true events of his life, adding a good dose of wit and imagination.

Poulton insists that rugby attracts more ‘characters’ than any other sport – ideal elements for an entertaining book. He has purposely stayed away from the intricate and often confusing laws of rugby to make the book also appeal to non-rugby fans, who may not even realise that in rugby there is no such thing as a pre-converted try.

How it all began

A love of humour has fuelled Poulton’s passion for reading the books of many well-known comedy writers. One day, as he was reading one of them, he proclaimed to his wife that he no longer found the stories particularly funny.

“Well, write your own then,” she replied. And so he did – a chapter each week for over 18 weeks, but only after the first chapter had lain dormant for six years. It did get finished, according to the author, thanks to “Mike Harrison, my old and trusted friend, without whose cajoling, outrageous flattery and threat to show my wife certain photographs taken on a holiday we both once spent in a caravan in Cornwall, the book would never have been finished.”

The book was published in April 2015 and is now available at Amazon.

The Limassol connection

Many of the first players in Cyprus were and still are originally from South Africa – a great rugby nation. The Paphos Tigers had set up their ‘base’ at the Keg and Barrel in Paphos and when the Limassol team was formed, a ‘rugby bar’ was needed.

Shaka Zulu, opened in 2004 by the Cypriot-South African Michael Damalis, proved a perfect choice. A pub-style establishment with airy outdoor seating right on Limassol’s seafront road, featuring several big-screen TVs, it has been attracting sports fans since and has a solid base of regulars, many of them South Africans.

Damalis, a rugby fan himself, says he is honoured to have his bar and persona and several of the bar’s regular customers featured in Poulton’s book.

Future plans

The author’s friends back in the UK are excited about his project and have aided with enthusiastic support and research. Apart from either a sequel to the book or another genre altogether, Poulton says there is also the possibility of the book being turned into a film or sitcom.

Exciting times ahead and a good chance to be seeing more of Cyprus’ rugby world in the media.

As published in The Cyprus Weekly of August 7th. 

Mary Anglberger

I’ve been travelling the world for over 20 years teaching English and am now taking time to follow my passion for photography and writing. I want to share all the things, events and people that have inspired and inspire me and spread those positive vibes all around.

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