CHRISTCHURCH, NZ – I’ve been a member of the MTM staff for a year now and every once in a while I take a left turn with a column and just run with it. Today, like every other day I post, I’ll write like I know what I’m talking about. In reality, I’m cross promoting Rugby Wrap Up. I’m a rugby novice, but I suspect I’m talking to an equally ignorant bunch for the most part; so let’s go for it.
Jason Eaton turns twenty-nine years old today and where exactly his age relates to the stage of his rugby career I don’t know, but what I do know is this: he is a player for the New Zealand All Blacks national team at the “lock” position. A player at this spot is the guy or gal with the unenviable task of placing his/her head and shoulders pretty much up teammates’ ass for support during the scrum. By match’s end do you really want to have your head there?
Outside of this dirty work, the lock position is made of unsung heroes. The grunt and stabilizing force of a good team who punch the time card, say nothing and just keep working until the horn sounds is the type I root for that symbolizes the lock.
Having grown up on a New Zealand dairy farm where getting dirty is the way of life and a full day’s hard work is normal, Eaton was made to play “lock”. Mobile and agile enough to catch a free-range chicken, skillful and strong enough to stare down and move a bull, Eaton might be on the path of another great lock by the name of John Eales, a member of the International Rugby Hall of Fame. Seems almost natural as the two names follow very closely alphabetically. At 6’8″ and a little more than 16 stones (or 246 lbs.), this Australian Wallabie tree stands out in a crowd or throw in during game play as the lock is sometimes assisted in getting airborne to snare control of the ball, if not entirely on his own leaping abilities.
Back to Eaton… Aside from his National duties on the All Blacks, he’s on the Hurricanes Super Rugby team, which is a league more similar to American team leagues, where competition is held in a variety of cities and teams are divided into geographical divisions. He’s also playing Provincial Rugby where I’m guessing – team members must be born or live in a specific town within New Zealand and qualify or be asked to compete for the city during a tournament.
Having three rugby associations, Jason Eaton must be a pretty damned good rugger and I hear he is the Brian Wilson of rugby, with enough facial hair to hide a Vegemite sandwich, and has been suspended a time or two by various clubs.
Gotta say, I’m intrigued by the game of rugby, the lock position and Mr. Eaton. Hey, Short Matt, keep me in mind to view exploits on the pitch to advance my rugby education – like send me to the upcoming Rugby World Cup in New Zealand.
Tomorrow, West Coast Craig’s column is a lock.