Adrian Lisle (‘Moose’) Skeggs
Nicknames in rugby are a dime a dozen however few were more appropriate than that bestowed upon Adrian Skeggs - ‘Moose’. A gentle giant of a man, at an imposing 1.9 metres and 116 kilograms, Skeggs’ road to the Wallabies had many twists and turns however that journey took him from a tiny, picturesque island in the Pacific Ocean to rugby grounds the world over.
Born on Lord Howe Island, rugby was the last thing on Skeggs' mind when he started senior school, via correspondence, at the Lord Howe Island Central School. That all changed when he was sent to the mainland, to attend Year 8 at The Armidale School. It was during his time at TAS that Skeggs was given a ‘great introduction to the game’ by Wallaby #519 John Hipwell. The great halfback saw Skeggs latent potential, guided him into the second row and watched his young charge play three years in both the school’s 1st XV and the New South Wales Country Schools 1st XV (1980-82).
In 1983 Skeggs headed off to Sydney in order to study teaching at the Australian College of Physical Education and play his club rugby at Warringah. In his second year with the Rats, Tony ‘Slaggy’ Miller, then first grade coach, suggested that Skeggs switch into the front row - the very same move Miller had made during his 41 Test, 16 year Wallaby career. With that sage advice, Skeggs transitioned to tight-head prop where he formed a powerful front three alongside Lance Walker and Enrique ‘Topo’ Rodriguez.
For the next four seasons Skeggs served his front row apprenticeship at club level although he did earn selection for NSW ‘B’ in successive seasons (1987-88). His big break came in 1989 when Parramatta’s Peter Kay (Wallaby #669) was forced to withdraw from the NSW XV to face the British Lions. Skeggs came into the side for his state debut against a front row which included Welsh tight head Dai Young and English hooker Brian Moore. The Waratahs, coming off a 0-31 thumping at the hands of Queensland three weeks earlier, had plenty to prove and they did just that with a narrow, hard fought 21-23 loss.
Later that same year the Wallabies were set to head off on a 10-match tour of Canada and France with Tony Daly, Mark Hartill, Ewen McKenzie and Dan Crowley as the squad’s front row forwards. Unfortunately, Crowley suffered a knee injury in the Brisbane grand-final and was unable to train for several days. It was initially feared he had suffered a torn cartilage, one which would have ruled him out of the tour entirely, however an examination revealed a strain around both the posterior capsule of the knee and the fibula head. Nonetheless the selectors called in Skeggs as injury cover and the big man made his debut for Australia in the second tour match, the 43-15 win over British Columbia. With Crowley recovered from his knee strain, Skeggs then returned to Australia before the side moved on to France.
Although Skeggs played for both Sydney and NSW in 1990 his representative ambitions were largely thwarted by the presence of the incumbent Wallaby pair - Daly and McKenzie. At the end of the year Skeggs made the decision to head north and play club rugby with Brothers in Brisbane. The move paid dividends almost immediately when he made his debut for Queensland in their 40-13 victory against Fiji. That was the first of 27 matches Skeggs played for his adopted state over four seasons. One of the most memorable games during that tenure was the 1994 Super 10 final when, with both Tim Horan and Jason Little forced from the field with serious knee injuries, Queensland - away from home - managed to upset Natal 21-10. Skeggs returned to Africa in 1995, joined the Crusaders club, and played two seasons of representative rugby for Natal.
After his playing career ended Skeggs remained heavily involved with rugby through coaching, technical assistance and development with the Parow NTW RC in Cape Town (SAF), Western Province (SAF), the South African Police team, Harlequins (U.K.), Bedford (U.K.), Worcester (U.K.), Trinidad & Tobago RU, Namibia (2003 RWC), Scotch College (Perth), and Newport (WAL). Since his return to Australia in 2003, Skeggs has worked in Travel, Sales and Marketing roles while driving many projects and events in the Rugby Business Network space.
Skeggs played one match for Australia, the second of the Wallaby tour to Canada and France, against British Columbia in Victoria.