Combat Zone

ISBN 9781781123973
ISBN 9781781123973

Book 1 in my new Rugby Academy series.

The last place football-mad Woody wants to be is Borderlands School.

A British boarding school full of the children of armed service personnel, Borderlands is rugby-obsessed and football is a dirty word.



woody cardBut Woody’s dad won’t budge on the school; a serious conflict has broken out in the Middle East and he is shipping out with the RAF any day. And once Woody sticks it out he discovers a talent he never knew he had, taking his school team to the National Schools  Rugby Championships.

Published by Barrington Stoke.

Find out more about the Rugby Academy series here.


Combat Zone

Read from the first chapter of Combat Zone  here.

Watch me read from Combat Zone and ask quiz questions soon here.

Signed and dedicated copies of all my books are available personalised to order from my local independent children’s bookshop “The Thoughtful Spot”  here.

Available now from your local library, bookshops, Amazon and Kindle.


Awards & selections:

cov2016 Rugby Academy : Combat Zone  is a finalist for the Coventry Inspiration Book Award 2016!



2016 Rugby Academy : Combat Zone  is on the Scottish First Minister’s Reading Challenge 



5 star review
5 star review

Rugby World magazine’s made Combat Zone their top rugby read for children in Christmas 2014 and gave it a 5 star review in January 2015.


Rating: 5/5 “pacey, but also thought-provoking … This is just the thing to whet the appetites of rugby-mad primary school children at the start of the World Cup year.” Rugby World 

“I love the first chapter of Combat Zone. ” Cameron

Rating: 5/5  “A realistic story for the tween boy which looks at changing from football to rugby and what it’s like to have a parent fighting in a war zone.”    Book Bag

“Tom Palmer leads you through a tale of war, sport and friendship” The Guardian

“I thought it was excellent and it has been a hit with the kids. I love they way you deliver a great story within the Barrington Stoke formula – which works so incredibly well for so many kids. Your Football Academy is also really popular with our younger boys!” Alison Hewett, Junior School Librarian, Kristin School, New Zealand 

Read New Zealand Librarian Ali Hewitt’s full review in her blog 100 great books before lunch here.  

Combat Zone News

Combat Zone Book Launch at RAFI launched Combat Zone at RAF Cosford with some very special guests: the children from Albrighton Primary School who gave me invaluable help in portraying the lives of children with parents in the Forces.

I am albrightoncurrently working with Reading Force who promote sharing and talking about books with children in British Armed Service  families.  You can find out more about that here.

Combat Zone school visits

Visit to Hull CollegiateFind out more about my Rugby Reading Game school visits here.

I can’t tell you how much the boys enjoyed Tom’s visit on Wednesday; he ‘pitched’ his talks at exactly the right level and the boys left the hall full of excitement and the reading bug. The adults present were hugely impressed by the subtlety of Tom’s message and it was a really great afternoon. Bickley Park School

Thank you so much for visiting us last Thursday to help us celebrate World Book Day. We all really enjoyed the day and there has been a real ‘buzz’ around the school ever since!” Ludgrove School


top trumpsPlay Top Trumps with the full set of player cards here.

Tom Palmer Rugby Paper AdMeet me at rugby events here.







Thank you for the lovely picture of Rory!rory

combat zone coverBuy books

Signed and dedicated copies of all my books are available personalised to order from my local independent children’s bookshop “The Thoughtful Spot”  here.

Rugby Academy 1 : Combat Zone Amazon



rugby boys

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