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Winging It: Jonathan Kaplan's journey from World-Class Ref to Rookie Solo Dad

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Winging It: Jonathan Kaplan's journey from World-Class Ref to Rookie Solo Dad

Joanne Jowell & Jonathan Kaplan discuss the book Winging It. (Camera & editing: Darlene Creamer)

16th May 2018

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Jonathan Kaplan, celebrated international rugby referee and former world record-holder for most Test caps, had his fair share of challenging moments on the field. He was known for his commitment to fair play, ability to defuse tense situations, and courage in making difficult, and sometimes controversial, decisions. All this would stand JK in good stead and come back into play when, at the age of 47, he made two life-changing decisions.

The first was to blow his whistle for the last time and end his career as a professional rugby ref. The second was to become a parent – and a solo parent at that. This is the story of JK’s decision to have a baby by surrogate, the two-year fertility process that followed, and the subsequent birth of his son Kaleb.

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Winging It draws on the insights of key role-players in JK’s journey, including the extraordinary experience of the surrogate mother herself. Exchanging rucks for reflux, mauls for milk bottles, scrums for storks (and other stories about Kaleb’s conception), this account of how JK navigates the choppy waters of parenthood is disarmingly frank and scrupulously honest. At times poignant and tender, and at others downright funny, this is a thoroughly contemporary take on what constitutes a family and how we dare to build one.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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Joanne Jowell is the author of the bestselling biographies On the Other Side of Shame: An Extraordinary Account of Adoption and Reunion (2009) as well as Finding Sarah: A true story of living with bulimia (2011). She lives in Cape Town with her husband and three children.

Winging It is published by Pan Macmillan South Africa

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