Irish rugby fans have plenty of new reading material to catch up on this festive season, and the latest book on the market is Simon Easterby’s autobiography entitled ‘Easter’s Rising’. Published by Y Lolfa, it will be available in all good bookshops shortly and is an ideal stocking filler.
From his early years as a boy in Yorkshire to his successes on the rugby pitch as Ireland’s most-capped flanker and a British & Irish Lion, ‘Easter’s Rising’ charts the personal and professional journey of Simon Easterby, one of rugby union’s most popular forwards.
Simon was born in Harrogate to an English father and an Irish mother and was educated at the prestigious Roman Catholic school, Ampleforth College.
He made the choice to play for Ireland by turning down a personal invitation from Clive Woodward to join the England squad in 2000, a particularly bold move considering he had been out of contact with the Irish team for three years at that point.
Despite his proud decision to play for Ireland, Simon’s national identity and loyalties have been questioned throughout his career with many asking why an Englishman with an English accent would want to play for Ireland.
Over the years he’s been labelled an ‘Irish-Yorkshireman’, ‘Englishman’, ‘English-born Irishman’, ‘Irishman’ and more recently, a ‘naturalised Welshman’, but for Simon it is this combination of Irish, English and Welsh ties that have made him what he is today – and all the stronger for it.
With a reputation for putting his body on the line, as many of his opponents have found out to their cost and as his own injuries testify, Simon Easterby, or ‘Beasterby’ to give him his nickname, has long been one of the most ferocious forwards in the game.
Simon moved to Wales to join Llanelli RFC in 1999 before going on to captain the newly-formed regional side, the Llanelli Scarlets, for five consecutive seasons. He played in more than 200 games for the teams until he was forced to retire due to a knee injury in 2010.
During his international career, Simon became a regular for Ireland after making his debut for the team in 2000 and was called up to play for the British & Irish Lions during their tour of New Zealand in 2005.
Simon is married to Sarra Elgan, a television presenter and daughter of former Wales international Elgan Rees, who was also a British & Irish Lion. They have two children and live near Bridgend in South Wales.
Simon has done a lot for Llanelli and Irish rugby and has consistently been at the forefront of both teams efforts in what is a demanding position in an extremely attritional sport – Ronan O’Gara
As a player, you could not wish for a better captain or leader – Stephen Jones
He goes out there and puts his body on the line, and that is why he commands so much respect from his fellow players – Warren Gatland