Today a salute to long-serving lock George Robson, 29, who – it has just been announced on the Harlequins official club website – is departing at the end of the season to join French Top 14 side Oyonnaix.
During the course of his career ‘The Goatman’ (as he is known for reasons lost in time to many fans) has played for England at Under 16, Under 18 and Saxons level and once captained the full England midweek team on the 2011 tour of South Africa. He made his debut as a substitute for Quins in 2005 and his starting debut for the first XV in February of 2006, since when he has made 195 appearances for the club.
Given the way rugby union player sizes are going, at 6 feet 5 inches and 17 stone 11 pounds, George is perhaps an inch or so smaller that international coaches are looking for these day.
That said, not everyone who goes into elite professional sport can progress to international level and George belongs to that well-loved group of yeoman one-club players who, season in season out, give their all for the cause. For the past seven years and more he has been the ‘senior pro’ in the Quins pack’s engine room, calling the line outs and doing much of the ‘hard yards’ unseen and unsung heavy duty work, including trucking the ball up into defensive walls, cleaning rucks out, tackling anything that moved and giving ‘edge’ to all Quins’ forward battles.
I’ve been a non-playing member of Quins for twenty two years now (a season ticket holder for fifteen) and, if you asked me to nominate squad members in my time who epitomised everything positive about the club, I’d unhesitatingly nominate George in my top three. He’s like a piece of the furniture. He never seeks out the limelight, but you sense the other players naturally look to him to lead by example and you know he’s never going to let the team down. In many respects, as I write this, I feel a notch older than I did yesterday, simply because The Goatman is not going to be around next season.
Good luck George, to you and your family – and may you enjoy a fruitful new career in France, with grateful thanks for all you did for Quins!