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Playbill Cover - 1973

David Storey, noted British author, playwright, and occasional screenwriter died at 83. Of importance to rugby is the fact that he authored the novel This Sporting Life in 1960, which depicted the gritty account of the rise and fall of a working-class Rugby League player.

Storey adopted the novel into a 1963 screenplay of the same name. Lindsay Anderson directed the black and white film that introduced actor Richard Harris in the memorable role of Frank Machin. Storey played professionally for Leeds RLFC while he studied in London.

In 1971, Storey wrote the theatrical drama The Changing Room, an insider’s look at the locker room of a rugby league club. The play opened in New York in 1973 with a cast of American actors, including Tom Atkins, George Hearn, John Lithgow, and Richard Masur.

Harris’s on screen portrayal of Machin remains a tour de force of raw realism that few sport movies have ever achieved. He fit the role perfectly having played rugby for Munster Junior and Senior clubs and also for Crescent College (secondary school) in Limerick, Ireland. An excellent athlete, Harris excelled at squash as a teen ager, winning many local championships.