I got the horrible news that a former rugby teammate of mine passed away. I knew it would happen at some point in time, but Ian was only 23 years old, so this was a huge surprise. He was a physically gifted player who was also lucky enough to have a mental aptitude for the game. He had an unbelievable amount of grit and fortitude as well. Ian started playing men’s club rugby at the age of 18, and I can’t remember him ever backing down for a second against more experienced and physically mature players. He was called on by our club very early on to contribute on the field in some very tough situations, and he always delivered.
And off the field…well, there has never been and there never will be another “Colonel Kurtz”. Two things were guaranteed when you talked to him: (1) you were going to laugh, and (2) you were going to learn something. He earned the nickname Colonel Kurtz on one of the first road trips he took with the club. After rumbling for an 80 meter try, single handedly demolishing the defense of one of our most bitter rivals, Ian spent the hours following the match waxing philosophical on subjects far beyond the comprehension of most of his audience.
But man, was it entertaining.
Guys like Ian personify the list of reasons I play rugby. His passing is a reminder to ruck the ones you love every chance you get.