One was known as Moose, the other, as Mouse – and together two former rugby players from The Armidale School who wore the green and gold for their country will officially kick off the TAS rugby season this Friday night.
Adrian ‘Moose’ Skeggs –nicknamed for his massive frame when he arrived at TAS from Lord Howe Island aged 14 – played professionally for NSW, the Qld Reds and donned the green and gold for Australia as a Wallaby tourist against Canada in 1993, and is the only rugby player from Lord Howe Island to represent Australia in the sport. The former tighthead prop is currently the Australian Convenor of the Rugby Business Network which brings together senior business people with a passion for rugby.
Four years behind him at TAS was the diminutive Michael Forsythe (who inherited his brother’s moniker), a nippy halfback who in his final year toured with Australian Schoolboys in New Zealand, then went on to play for Sydney University, the Australian under 21s in 1989 then Northern Suburbs and finally Colleagues, which won the Judd Cup premiership in 1996.
Both will inspire the current Opens players with their reflections on the sport and spirit of rugby, and how it helps develop character on and off the field. For Skeggs, it is likely to include tales of how TAS, and rugby, set the troublesome islander on a straight path.
“I had a crack at burning down a few things on the island and was a bit of a recalcitrant but the Lord Howe community saw the potential in me and my mother who was very unwell, so they joined together to fund me to go to The Armidale School. I was talented in various sports but I had never worn shoes in my life and and I needed discipline, not so much about being right or wrong, but about about being consistent in life,” Skeggs said in a radio interview last month.
“TAS made me – it made me for a lot of reasons, it took me away from the comfort of Lord Howe, gave me the discipline of being consistent and managing routine, and that charged me up for a future with where I wanted to go in life. It was thanks to former Wallaby John Hipwell who was a coach at TAS who taught me so much about rugby but also about humility.”
The official launch will follow a match against Farrer on Friday afternoon and on the eve of home fixtures against Sydney Grammar. The school will also host Sydney’s Cranbrook School before the last pre-GPS fixture against St Gregory’s College Campbelltown and the first round of the AAGPS Third Grade competition against The Scots College on 2 June.