David Egerton arrived at Bath in the mid eighties when the supreme back row of the time was storming through club rugby, namely Roger Spurrell, Bath’s piratical Captain, a young Jon Hall who was terrifyingly good as well as terrifying, and Paul Simpson, the ebullient Northerner who enjoyed himself far too much to enjoy a long England career.
Dave was very different, controlling line-outs at will given his height and covering the ground with great authority, quite easy given his long stride. He had great ball-handing ability, soon became a dominant figure and worked himself into a Bath legend.
Unlike the overtly snarling characters in the Bath pack, who commanded respect in the deepest reaches of the Welsh Valleys, he was understated but had the same effect. I remember when felled by an aggressive opposition forearm, a passing Chilcott or Spurrell would most likely have given me a clip on the way past to rub it in. Dave stopped and winked at me: ‘Hallers, you ok? Man or mouse?’ and the challenge was the same but delivered very differently.
Few people messed with him, as he was an intimidating figure. Undoubtedly, when flanked by Jon Hall and Andy Robinson in the late eighties, this back row was a huge key to our success. If I, Stuart Barnes or Jerry Guscott found our way blocked, Edgy would be there cleaning up the mess and was often the unsung hero against his more illustrious colleagues.
England’s famous win against Australia in 1988 at Twickenham to herald a revival leading to two grand slams and a World Cup Final saw some mighty contributions from Dave that day. But for Dean Richards, Mike Teague and injuries, he would have won many more caps. He was tough as teak, but a gentle giant. One of those great combinations.
In some early tributes, many refer to his rendition of ‘Ring of Fire’. It was a special song to him and he made it a party piece. Dave was a member of the Bath Dining Club (BDC) and in the infamous French restaurant in Bath called the Beaujolais, his table-top version ended up with a paper tablecloth on fire and general consternation from everyone but the phlegmatic owner Jean-Pierre.
I did not see much of Dave after our careers finished, but occasional reunions brought back the memories. He always had a broad smile on his face and remembered way more than I ever could aspects of our rugby times together, mostly at my expense. As with anyone who played for Bath, there was respect and an unstated bond of unity. We all knew how our collective will and effort had brought us the success we enjoyed.
Edgy will be missed in so many ways, and although he is gone he will never be forgotten. The rugby gods will be welcoming him to the top table I can guarantee and no doubt ‘Ring of Fire’ will be their first request.
Simon John Halliday