In 1999 Ulster became the most unlikely European champions in rugby history. A squad that included builders, students and lorry drivers, mixed with a handful of players of international quality, overcame the odds and helped to unite a divided nation through the power of sport.
The Last Amateurs tells the story of how a team went, in just fourteen months, from a record-breaking 56–3 defeat to Wasps, to securing their place in Irish history as the first European champions from Ireland.
Based on interviews with all the key members of the squad – including David Humphreys, Mark McCall, Simon Mason, Andy Ward and Jonny Bell – the book focuses on the players, their varied backgrounds and how the team came together. It also highlights the very different nature of the game, which has become increasingly monetised and sanitised in the years since.
The Last Amateurs is a celebration of the 1999 victory, and of a campaign that, in the end, managed to bring together the whole island of Ireland – Protestants and Catholics; rugby die-hards and GAA converts. United for eighty minutes, they created one of the most passionate and vibrant scenes the Heineken Cup competition had ever seen, as David Humphreys, alongside the injured Mark McCall, fought through the throng of jubilant pitch invaders to lift the trophy and crown Ulster kings of Europe.