Stuart Hogg calls time on one of the great Scottish rugby careers

Full-back misses out on opportunity to bow out at this Autumn's World Cup

Stuart Hogg has retired from rugby with immediate effect. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk
Stuart Hogg has retired from rugby with immediate effect. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk

THE curtain has descended on the playing career of an all-time great of the Scottish game, and although Stuart Hogg’s final bow has come three months earlier than he would have hoped, the record breaking full-back – who announced his retirement from the game earlier today [Sunday] with immediate effect having initially hoped to battle through to this Autumn’s World Cup – can walk away with his head held high, knowing that he gave everything to the cause every time he pulled on a jersey, whether that was for club, country or the Lions.

Regrets, he’ll have a few; but then again, too few to mention. In the final reckoning of his international career, it must be recognised that few if any players have contributed to the national cause as much and as often, and with the same intense passion, as Hogg. He wore his heart on his sleeve, and undoubtedly rubbed up some people the wrong way at times, but anyone who doubts his contribution since bursting onto the scene as a fresh-faced 19-year-old off the bench against Wales back in 2012 needs to have a long hard think about what they need to do in order to re-connect with reality.

Back then, the world was his oyster and he played as if he hadn’t a care in the world. Over time, he lost some of that blistering pace which made him just too hot to handle in the early days, and opponents worked out ways to manage him better, but he remained a potent attacking threat with ball in hand, while his siege-gun boot and passing ability were often under-appreciated tools in the team’s armoury.


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A bigger challenge for Hogg, who is now 31, appeared to be dealing with some of the harsh criticism which has sadly become part and parcel of being a high-profile sportsperson in the modern world. He played a central role in raising expectations for the team, which proved to be a double-edged sword because he was also expected to shoulder a disproportionate level of culpability when those high hopes were not realised.

He did have a few high-profile gaffes – such as the fumbled try against Ireland in 2020 – and some of these miss-steps were blown-up way out of proportion by the unforgiving court of social media. This undoubtedly contributed to the full-back often being a prickly customer when in the spotlight off the field, and added to the sense that this last World Cup cycle has been a struggle psychologically.

It sometimes felt like Hogg’s biggest problem was that he cared too much. Hopefully, now that he is out of the firing line, he’ll be able look back on his career with justifiable pride and appreciate how much he contributed towards so many Scots’ enjoyment of the game over the last decade and a bit.

“It is difficult where to start but with great sadness and an enormous amount of pride, I am announcing my immediate retirement from playing rugby,” said Hogg, when delivering the bombshell news. “I fought with everything I had to make the Rugby World Cup but this time my body has not been able to do the things I wanted and needed it to do. We knew this day would come eventually, I just never thought it would be this soon.

“It’s hard to put into words just how much of an impact the game has had on my life,” he added. “I will be retiring knowing that I have given my body and heart to rugby.

“I will be forever grateful to this amazing community and cannot wait to begin my journey as a proud supporter of the team.”

Earlier this year, in the penultimate game of the recent Six Nations against Ireland, Hogg became only the fourth male player ever to be capped 100 times by Scotland. He has scored a record 27 tries for his country. He has toured with the British and Irish Lions on three consecutive occasions, to Australia in 2013, New Zealand in 2017 and South Africa in 2021, playing in the first and second Test of that last trip.

At club level, Hogg won the PRO12 with Glasgow Warriors in 2015 and a Premiership and European Champions Cup double with Exeter Chiefs in 2020.

He has now returned to live in his native Hawick and has hinted that media work may feature in his post-playing career.

“We would like to wish Stuart all the best in his retirement,” said Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend. “He has been an outstanding player for Scotland and has had a career lit up with so many achievements, highlights and special memories.

“I have had the pleasure of coaching Stuart for the majority of his career, and he was a joy to work with and watch on the training field and in games.  He had a love for so many aspects of the game, and not only got joy from taking on defenders with ball in hand but also putting his teammates into space.

“His basic skills and speed set him apart from other players, and it has been an amazing effort to play Test rugby for the past 11 years.”

“We respect his decision to step away now and understand the stresses and challenges his body has gone through in recent seasons.

“He has been an integral part of our squad for many years, as well as captaining the side to famous victories over England and France in 2021, and we all wish him well in his career post rugby.

“We look forward to welcoming him back to support us from the stands.”

Glasgow Warrior Ollie Smith is now the most obvious candidate to wear the Scotland No 15 jersey in France, although Blair Kinghorn is also in the mix after his flirtation with stand-off fizzled out, while Huw Jones has played there in the past but Townsend will be wary of splitting up the midfield partnership he has forged with Sione Tuipulotu.


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About David Barnes 3908 Articles
David has worked as a freelance rugby journalist since 2004 covering every level of the game in Scotland for publications including he Herald/Sunday Herald, The Sunday Times, The Telegraph, The Scotsman/Scotland on Sunday/Evening News, The Daily Record, The Daily Mail/Mail on Sunday and The Sun.

28 Comments

  1. The try Scotland A v England 2012
    The kick to touch v England 2021
    The try v Ireland 2016
    The assist for Visser try(s) v Wales 2016 France 2016
    The try v Italy 2013
    The try v Georgia 2016
    The joyous dance / jump after DVDM try v France 2021

  2. The try Scotland A v England 2012
    The kick to touch v England 2021
    The try v Ireland 2016
    The assist for Visser try(s) v Wales 2016 France 2016
    The try v Italy 2013
    The try v Georgia 2016
    The joyous dance / jump after DVDM try v France 2021

  3. The try Scotland A v England 2012
    The kick to touch v England 2021
    The try v Ireland 2016
    The assist for Visser try(s) v Wales 2016 France 2016
    The try v Italy 2013
    The try v Georgia 2016
    The joyous dance / jump after DVDM try v France 2021

  4. as Moody Blue said, no wonder he is knackered! He has played c300 games of pro rugby and nearly all as a starter. That is some toll, the more so given how well players players are managed when up here.

    A just exceptional player, right from his first game for Glasgow (which I was privilged to see).
    One of very few players who make people want to watch rugby. One a a very very select few ever who could silence a crowd just because he got the ball.
    Best of luck Hoggy, you’ve earned it

  5. I’m glad he has Retired, no don’t go straight to the thumbs down, I’m glad because it shows the character of the man. What does it say of a glorious career that you hang on until you are told what you knew would come one day, a season or competition that was just a ‘Bridge to Far’ and other perhaps lesser mortals making the decision for you.
    Facing that moment and making that decision early with the thought in mind for the Team is the correct decision, the correct choice for him and for the cohesion of the team, this World Cup will be no place for carrying an injury or an inevitable loss of performance.
    Like any other supporter of Scottish Rugby I want and will remember him at his scintillating best and his ‘honest’ decision gives us that opportunity and let’s be thankful for that and wish him and his family back where it all began in the Borders all the best.

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  6. Heard he was going down Amateur jockey route attached to a local Hawick Racehorse trainer
    Always been a Good rider .
    Now that would be a real career change.
    Go for it Hoggy

  7. Desperately sad that injuries have cut short his career but my gosh he was special at his best. Easy to forget just how slow and pedestrian our backline was when he came in at 19 and changed the way we play rugby. He was utterly electric. A whole generation of kids started to play rugby when they were watching (free to air on Alba) the likes of Hogg DTH Finn Niko Tommy et al strutting their stuff for Glasgow. The fact that we all see him as a GOAT jn a position where we have had the likes of Scotland Irvine Dods and Hastings should tell you everything you need to know. The only sadness is that we didn’t get that win against NZ a few years back when he was quite possibly the best player on the planet at that time. Hope he can enjoy the retirement and carve a new niche for himself.

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    • Great comments. I also have a couple of football mad reluctant rugby fans I grew up with who started to get more into rugby because of Hoggy. They were blown away by clips of this young guy and started to pay more attention to the Scotland rugby team. Lets not forget this is what Stuart Hogg brought to Scottish rugby. Excitement, belief, fearlessness, electricity, talent, x factor. As Tom English rightly coined him recently, he was Scotland’s first rugby rock and roll star of the professional era.

  8. Truly disappointed that Hoggy won’t be having his swansong at the forthcoming RWC in France but a huge thanks to him for entertaining & exciting us all these years with his mix of acceleration, speed, running lines, kicking prowess, & positivity (always looking to create something from nothing), to name just some of his attributes. He will be sorely missed as his attacking play was exhilarating & everybody waited in excited anticipation for him to get the ball. I hope he enjoys, & is as successful in, the next phase of his life & career, whatever that may be.

  9. 12 six nations tournaments in a row. 57 six nations games from his debut to his last game, he played in 53 of those games, starting everyone he played after coming on as a sub in his first. 127 Scotland internationals in total since his debut, he played in 100 of them, starting in 99, only coming off the bench on his debut. Among those he missed were three summer tours when he was unavailable when he was on a Lions tour. Astonishing consistency; I doubt if anyone else has as an impressive appearance record over 12 seasons in 6 nations for Scotland. In terms of miles-on-the-clock no wonder he is knackered!

  10. Sad that we wont see Hogg again in a Scotland jersey. I think I speak for all Scotland fans when I say that he provided us with some amazing moments and for many years took alot of the burden of Scotland’s attacking threat on his own shoulders. You could see in the last 18 months he wasnt the Hogg of 5-10 years, in a way its good to see him going out on his own terms. All the best Stuart

  11. A fabulous player who has given so much to the game thank you Stuart and very very best wishes for a happy and very successful retirement

  12. What a player and so sad he didn’t get to go out on his own terms in France this year. In his prime though definitely one of the greats – that pace, attacking intent and side step were just electric. As part of that Warriors backline with DTH and Tommy Seymour they were dynamite. Great memories and thanks for everything Hoggy.

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  13. A true great for Scotland hangs up his boots, we have had few players who have been first on the team sheet in the professional era for as long as Hoggy, Glasgow , Exeter , Scotland and the Lions, my hat is tipped sir , thank you for your passion , skill and class.

  14. I feel so sad reading about his retirement. What a guy and what a player – almost single-handedly he brought quality, flair and tries back into the Scottish national team at a time many of us feared for the team’s future as a competitive force. Some of his tries, assists and kicking was simply breathtaking and we’ll be a long-time waiting for such a prolonged world class player again.

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  15. Best player of my 30 year tugby watching time ……a quite magnificent emotional and strangely scottish player, we relied on him too much at times, you could see /feel his pressure, has gifted me some of the best memories of my life.
    Thanks Hoggy, wishing you all the best

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  16. The best player in my time watching rugby. It is a shame he can’t make the world Cup. Hopefully Kinghorn can fill his boots.

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  17. Interesting time leaving- read into that what you will but if it’s as twitter says I hope he manages to sort his personal issues.

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    • With respect it’s called Twitter for a reason, perhaps I will let you work out why for yourself.

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      • I promise you I am not naive Mr. Smyth, content to accept what Hogg states rather than some Twit on Twitter, I don’t subscribe to vacuous social media platforms in search of tittle-tattle, or any of the other pointless Twitters.

  18. Thanks hoggy for everything, his influence in the dressing will be missed but he was getting a bit predictable in his play, maybe be the first of many to go after the world cup

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    • Who else do you think will go?

      I could see Nel and Richie Gray (although who knows with these two) and perhaps Gilchrist but the rest of the team seems quite young.

  19. Great player in his prime – two six nations player of the year speaks for itself. Would have thought he would start in France but gives an opportunity to younger boys. His loss will also be better for the camp morale without his influence.

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