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Rush reprint for rugby children's book due to huge demand

Less than two weeks after the publication of James Stafford’s How Wales Beat the Mighty All Blacks, a fully illustrated picture book for children, a reprint has had to be ordered by publishers Y Lolfa to meet demand. 

Only released on 22 October, it charted as the No.2 bestselling children’s book in Wales for the entire month. By the second week of November, all copies from the first print-run had been snapped up by bookstores, gift shops and online booksellers. The title is now being rushed back into print to meet demand from rugby fans for the Christmas season. 

How Wales Beat the Mighty All Blacks tells the story of the very first match between Wales and New Zealand in 1905. On their inaugural international tour, the All Blacks swept everyone bar Wales aside, winning 34 out of 35 games and scoring 976 points to just 59 against. The famous 3-0 win by Wales is still a source of controversy, with fans of both sides still debating whether the New Zealanders’ equalising try should have been disallowed. 

James Stafford says: “The response has been off the scale. As well as having a very warm reception in the rugby community, I’ve had parents getting in touch, telling me how much their children have enjoyed learning about this famous piece of Welsh sporting history. One proud father even told me his five-year-old son is begging to be taken to see the famous Gwyn Nicholls Gates at Cardiff Arms Park, which feature in the book. 

“I’ve had contact from as far afield as New Zealand and an absolutely delightful message from a Kiwi who now owns the whistle used in the actual game from 1905! We aren’t always the best in Wales at celebrating our history and I think the success of the book shows there really is a market for stories about our proud sporting past aimed at young readers. I’ve had several people say it would be perfect for schools and for engaging sport-mad children who aren’t usually drawn to books.”

The book has won widespread acclaim not just for its storytelling, but for the artwork by Carys Feehan, James’ niece. The images are packed with interesting historical detail, such as the kits worn and the flag used by Wales at the time. The uncle-and-niece creative team have also woven a few family references into the artwork. James, his wife and two children, and his parent were models for characters in the book, and an image of his great-grandparents from 1905 was added on the wall in one scene too.

Carolyn Hodges, from publishers Y Lolfa, says: “It’s a beautiful book and a really engaging story about a subject that’s close to Welsh hearts. I’m not surprised that it’s selling like hot cakes!”