Stuart Lancaster on The Iron Curtain: “It's not only Phil Larder's story of his personal transition from one rugby code to the other. It is also the story of how League changed Union forever in the professional era – told with humour, insight and a hugely impressive depth of research. The World Cup triumph of 2003 appears in a wholly new and vibrant perspective after reading Phil Larder and Nick Bishop's account of it.”


As the Rugby World Cup kicks off, Pitch are proud to publish the story of one of the sport’s great coaching revolutionaries, who played such a great part in England’s victory in 2003.


The Iron Curtain tells Phil Larder’s incredible story and divulges his coaching secrets.

  • Early Days. How Phil first became interested in both codes of the game as a youngster in Oldham, and became ‘a man apart’ as a result.
  • Transition from League to Union. Along with John Muggleton in Australia, Phil was rugby league's first coaching pioneer in switching codes.
  • Lost Opportunity. The story of the 2001 Lions in Australia, with English preparation techniques and professional attitudes far in advance of their Celtic team-mates.
  • Preparation. Analysis of how England prepared for particular teams that opposed them and the secrets of Woodward’s ‘war room’.
  • World Cup Triumph. The inside story of how England built up their playing and cultural values after the relative failure of the 1999 World Cup, wrangles with the club moguls and getting the RFU on board with Woodward’s ‘new model army’.
  • Disaster. The dissolution of English rugby success after Woodward's departure, which in turn led to Phil’s sacking.
  • Life in the Premiership. Phil’s life at Worcester and the pressures of working in the Premiership – part-time and from Spain!


Click here for more information, or to read a sample from The Iron Curtain: My Rugby Journey from League to Union