Graham Sharpe, Chairman of Judges and co-founder of the Award, said:
“This has proved to be one of the most competitive renewals in the lengthy history of the Award, with 17 worthy titles vying for a place on the shortlist. We believe the resulting magnificent seven set an extraordinarily high standard, bringing a depth of insight and fresh perspective to areas of sport and sporting history so often misunderstood, misinterpreted, underestimated or overlooked in the headline-led, here today, gone tomorrow media culture. We believe readers will not only enjoy but also learn from these game-changing books as we have.
“At 30 years old, we’re in the unique position to look back over three decades of publishing and to see how some things have changed dramatically, and others have not - the notably small number of female authors being published in this field, for instance, across a range of sports. Whilst the breadth and scope of sports writing has undoubtedly improved, and its reception and recognition by the literary world is much changed, there are still some areas where there is significant work to be done.”
Sevens Heaven by Ben Ryan is such a special book...But it’s the players and their real-life struggles that are centre stage, and Ryan – with the help of Tom Fordyce – writes stylishly and sensitively about a world in which family expectations and oppressive government regimes make the playing culture very different from that of their England or Kiwi rivals.