In 2004, when Colin Charvis asked for payment to meet the press in his capacity as Welsh captain, he created a furore which saw previous captains go on record deploring his attitude and even demanding he be removed from the position. Charvis retracted his demands and carried out his duties as captain both on and off the field in the manner expected but for many the damage had been done. Whether the player was right or wrong is a matter of opinion but the situation was the direct result of rugby entering the professional era and few who went before had to contend with such issues. Over 1,000 players have been capped by Wales but only a relatively small number have been given the honour of leading their country. It is to these men, the heroes and sometimes villains, that this book is dedicated. From James Bevan in 1881 through to Colin Charvis and Gareth Thomas at the beginning of the twenty-first century, the role of captain has evolved in tandem with both the game itself and the much wider sociological and technological developments that dominated the twentieth century.
Now, after 125 years of Welsh rugby, it is time to try and put the record straight - Who is the most successful Welsh captain? Why have so many players only had one opportunity to lead their country? Which position has seen the most captains and, indeed, which the least? Why were eight different captains chosen for eight consecutive matches? With input from many post-war captains, Breathing Fire provides answers to these questions and many more in what is an enthralling insight into the Welsh captaincy.
Steve Lewis is a bookseller whose retail outlet and website, www.rugbybuythebook.com, specialise in rugby titles. He is also the author of The Essential History of Wales and Who Let the Dogs Out?: Professionalism and the Revival of Newport RFC.