Commander Robert Easson Royal Navy
Having joined the Royal Navy as a fifteen year old junior seaman in 1957 Robert Keith 'Bob' Easson will be remembered by followers of Royal Navy Rugby as honest and hard-working. He always delivered a full shift as backrow forward and once he retired from playing, he continued to do the hard yards, as the Royal Navy's Selector and then as an administrator. It was following his off-field drive and contribution to the RNRU that upon leaving the Service in 1994, he was made a Life Member.
Bob had to wait quite a time before winning his first cap, at twenty nine years old in 1971. He then carried on to represent the Royal Navy for the next two seasons and was a key member of Binge Gatehouse's Inter Service winning team in 1973. Having missed the 1974 season, he returned to win his seventh and final cap in 1975 in the match against the Royal Air Force. He had natural hunting skills, winning turnovers, hassling and pressuring the opposition, winning the back of the lineout battle and above all leading by example from the front. He was the true ‘Blue Blood’ spirit of Navy Rugby.
Bob’s wife, Ann, was his most blessed right arm, always supportive and caring she was his source of strength, of courage and determination and from whom he derived so much pleasure, love and joy.
Bob went to Britannia Royal Naval College Dartmouth following his selection for officer. His Divisional Officer there was Tony Hallet, former RNRU Captain and Selector, who reported that he brought with him innate leadership and officer qualities. He was an inspiration on his SD course, passing out top of his group, and making time to help others along the way. It was little surprise that his naval career took such an upward turn thereafter, all the way to Commander.
After a short period away from main stream representative rugby he returned to succeed Binge as the Union's twenty ninth selector. His commitments as Bosun on the Royal Yacht, where he served with Commander Chris Tuffley, another former Navy player and selector, curtailed his mainstream activity within the RNRU but behind the scenes his involvement invigorating both representative youth rugby and the Navy Cup competition was highly effective.
It was probably at this time, shortly after stepping down as Selector, that the true qualities of Bob Easson became more widely recognised, first in 1986 when he was made Armed Forces Man of the Year (for the organisation of the evacuation of UK Nationals during the Yemen civil war) and then in 1987 when he received the Queen's Commendation for Brave Conduct. The awards did not surprise those who had played alongside or indeed against him.
Upon his retirement from the Service, Bob started a second career with the Weald and Downland Open Air museum. For over a decade they, like the Royal Navy Rugby Union before, benefited from his drive, organisation and people skills. By the time he retired for the second time he had transformed the effectiveness of the volunteer workforce and increased its size nearly three-fold. His ability to inspire others, along with his selflessness, courage and willingness to work hard were the key characteristics that made Bob the man he was. From Junior Seaman, to Commander, from backrow forward, to Rugby Captain, to RNRU Selector, and as an accomplished administrator, Bob always left a positive impression and made a real difference. He will be sorely missed by all those in Royal Navy Rugby who knew him and worked and played alongside him. The thoughts and prayers of the RNRU are with his wife Ann, his daughters Samantha and Kate, and all his friends and family at this time.
Bob's funeral will take place on Thursday 17th November at 1345 at The Oaks Havant Crematorium, Barton Road, Havant, Hampshire, PO9 5NA.