The sight of a mane of ginger hair charging with purpose after the rugby ball has become a much talked-about one in New Zealand over the course of the past two seasons. Said mane is attached to the head of Blues flanker Tom Robinson, who had an absolute stormer in Round One of Super Rugby Aotearoa where the Blues dominated the Hurricanes 30-20.
Unfortunately, Robinson, who is no stranger to knee troubles, having torn both ACL ligaments in the past, suffered a meniscus tear which required cartilage to be removed from his knee.
While it is hoped that Robinson will make a return to the side in the latter stages of the competition, his energetic presence will be sorely missed by the men from Auckland until then.
His contribution over the 80 minutes against the Hurricanes yielded 4 strong carries, an impressive 16 tackles and 3 lineout wins (2 of which were steals).
It would not surprise many to learn that rugby is, indeed, in Tom’s blood, as he follows in the footsteps of his father Alistair, who played for North Auckland from 1981 to 1987 and even attained four All Black caps on New Zealand’s 1983 tour of England and Scotland, although none were test caps.
Tom bears a striking resemblance to Alistair in his younger days and the former’s prowess in the lineout is quite clearly a genetic talent as Alistair was known for his skill in that department as well (although, admittedly, the lineouts today are a different animal from rugged days of the 80s).
Nicknamed “Red” due to the same hue of hair as his son, Alistair was a farmer by trade, educated at Christ’s College in Canterbury and represented Hawke’s Bay before joining up with North Auckland.
Alistair is of slightly smaller stature than his son, standing 1.93m tall and weighing around 100kg compared to Tom’s 1.98m and 112kg – no doubt a common difference between the professional and amateur eras – but, by all accounts, played with a similar vigour and tempo as Tom is now known to do.
Much interest will be on the trail of Tom’s progression within the sphere of rugby. One thing is for certain, if the 24 year old is able to make a habit of his marauding presence on the field and keeps his injury troubles at bay, he seems set to achieve what his father never did – an All Black test cap.