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There’s a ‘Moose’ on the loose at the Phuket Int’l Rugby 10s

RUGBY: At the ripe old age of 53 most professional rugby players would have hung up their boots and called it a day. But there are others who just can’t call it a day and continue to play the game in one form or another.

Matt Pond

Friday 26 May 2017, 09:21AM

Adrian 'Moose' Skeggs (centre) seen here playing in Queensland maroon back in his heyday.
Adrian 'Moose' Skeggs (centre) seen here playing in Queensland maroon back in his heyday.

One such player is former Warringah and Wallabies prop Adrian “Moose” Skeggs, whose 16-year career has seen him play against some of the greatest players of his time, especially as a member of the Wallabies touring team facing the likes of the British Lions, Canada and France – when he covered for the injury-troubled Dan Crowley.

But Skeggs isn’t ready to hang up his boots just yet. As this article goes to print, Skeggs is here in Phuket, limbering up with the rest of The Lord Howe Island Woodhens, to compete in this year’s Phuket International Rugby 10s tournament.

Ahead of the 10s, The Phuket News caught up with Skeggs to talk to him about life, his rugby career and what this weekend’s event means to the rugby world.

Born on September 28, 1963, on Lord Howe Island, Skeggs later attended The Armidale School, where he came under the watchful eye of former Wallaby great John Hipwell. And it was Hipwell who recognised Skeggs’ ample talents and launched him into the second row of the school’s First XV.

“As a troubled youth I was sent to a boarding school where I thrived and [soon] found that sport was a major part of my life.

“Getting a teaching career was next, as I enjoyed being with young people, and found out that island life had given me the ability to motivate and drive other young people.

“My mother’s courage, tenacity and drive gave me the ability to play first-grade rugby, and in 1989 I was selected for New South Wales to play against the British Lions and I never looked back,” Skeggs recalled.

“Playing for Queensland and winning the Super 10s was a highlight of my career, however, there was nothing like going on the 1993 Wallabies tour.

“I remember having a photo of Lord Howe in one pocket and a photo of [my] mother in the other pocket when I played my first Wallabies game.

“These days I use the incredible rugby networks to build business opportunities and I also convene the Australian Rugby Business Network,” he said.

So some of you may be wondering what’s with the “Moose”, and Skeggs said, “There are many reasons, maybe it’s the way I dance. I was Greenpeace’s most wanted when I was young and being a big Moose was it. It’s also a reflection of my personality as well,” he said.

When asked how and why he is taking part in 10s, Skeggs explained, “It’s actually quite simple. One of the players, Josh Owens, who lives on Lord Howe Island, a community of just 400 people, said let’s try something different, [so we] chose the Phuket 10s and here we are now.”

Skeggs’ team, for this tournament at least, is the Lord Howe Island Woodhens – an invitation team that played in 2002 and when they assembled in Phuket this week they had their very first training session together and their first chance to discuss strategy.

“Obviously, we have a limited number of players to select from, but we added around 10 mates of the [Lord Howe] Island guys, and we have invitation player Andrew Walker – an ex-Wallaby and Rugby League player – as guest player for the Woodhens,” Skeggs said.

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“We have a core group of players that have played some quality level rugby in the past, and there are some who would think that any game time in a Woodhens jersey will be a massive achievement,” he said.

“But let’s put it this way, we haven’t come to Phuket just to make up the numbers,” he added.

When asked what rugby events such as the Phuket 10s do for the world of rugby, Skeggs replied, “Rugby is booming massive globally and is now the fastest-growing team sport in the USA.

“I have coached in places like the West Indies, Cuba and Guam and I know that rugby has grown massively in each of these regions, like it has in Asia. The white lines of rugby are all around the world but it’s off the pitch that rugby offers its uniqueness.

“The 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan is a massive opportunity to expose rugby to a wider audience and it is an opportunity to show how it can grow the great business and rugby connectivity through it’s trusted networks.

“While rugby is supported in many regions of the world by ex-pat communities, the key is how you connect with the community, business and government links in each region,” he said.

Back in 2014 Skeggs embarked on a bike ride for charity and The Phuket News was interested to learn if he was planning on doing any similar activities in the future.

“Yes, I rode a bike 1,150 kilometres in eight days from Adelaide to Melbourne – mainly to do something different as I have had neck issues from 15 years of packing scrums.

“For this ride I was supporting a great mate of mine and his son. While my man bits where massively challenged on the ride, the purpose and being part of a team drove me on. And yes, should the chance arise I would certainly do it again,” he said enthusiastically.

As for the future of the Woodhens and whether they would return to Phuket at any point to compete in the 10s again, Skeggs said, “I know that the Woodhens are going to have a massive time at the Phuket 10s and I have heard nothing but praise of the event for its rugby, fun and what the region brings the guys.

“Rugby has been very kind to me so I am keen to widen the horizons of the guys and maybe every two years we will consider a tour of this nature.

“I am really looking forward to the team making new friends and bonding with the locals. We have sponsored a child from the orphanage in Phuket as well to leave some legacy here, while we also sponsor our local island school with some activities.

“While rugby has been kind to me, I am passionate about Lord Howe Island and I want the group to share that feeling on the tour.”  



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