IT appears that 1998 wasn’t a particularly memorable year, at least according to Wikipedia, although for one rugby club in Edinburgh it was the beginning of an era as a portly young hooker called Stewart ‘Muzzy’ Mustard walked through the gates of Goldenacre. Little did Heriot’s know that, over the next 26yrs, Stewart would become one of the clubs most decorated and celebrated players.
When the (still portly) 43-year-old squeezes into the No 2 jersey for his final hurrah at the end of this season, it will bring to an end the storied career of a true club rugby great, a man who has dedicated his life, and not inconsiderable body, to Heriot’s Rugby Club.
Capped at under-19 level for Scotland, Muzzy possessed a throwing arm that many international hookers would stand in line to receive, although perhaps the queue for his lungs wouldn’t be quite as long.
A fixture of the 1st XV over the early years, and latterly a wily operator in the 2nd XV, his bullocking runs from the wide channels, where the ball usually found him taking a wee rest, were a trademark of his game. His honours role of Scottish league and cup triumphs is in double figures, and only last weekend he secured his sixth 2nd XV league title, delivering a typical rumbustious captain’s display versus GHA at Braidholm.
Over the years Muzzy has always helped and influenced younger players at Goldenacre. During his time he has seen Stuart McInally (before he learned to throw!), Fraser Brown, Kevin Bryce, Fin Gillies and George Turner all play hooker for the club. Co-incidence that all these hookers went on to the pro and international game? Maybe. But seeing the club stalwart being able to hit double top at every line-out surely put the pressure on them to get their arrows sharpened!
Off the pitch Muzzy was similarly committed, schooling youngsters on etiquette and behaviours … at least until the multiple lagers took their toll on the teacher.
The end of a playing career doesn’t always mean the end of a rugby career. Fortunately for Heriot’s, the time Muzzy has freed up from not playing will allow him to spend more time coaching and being Vice President. Will he still be at Goldenacre in 26 years time? The club can only hope so.
Heriot’s have been incredibly lucky to have players of the like of Andy Irvine, Ken Scotland and the Milne brothers. True titans of the Scottish and global game. And is just as lucky to have people like Stewart Mustard.
In rugby, people often talk of “the club” when they talk about the club they call their own. A rugby club isn’t the grass, the stand or the clubhouse. The club is the people. The people are the club. Muzzy is Heriot’s, Heriot’s is Muzzy.