WHEN a player quits international rugby then signs a new deal with his club, the two events are often connected. In the case of Tommy Seymour, however, the two decisions – to call time on his Scotland career and to agree a one-year contract extension with Glasgow – were made independently of one another.
Yes, the 31-year-old’s farewell to the Test arena, announced last week, will make him available for the Warriors more frequently. But, as he explained yesterday, he chose to quit Scotland some time before starting talks on a new deal, with the desire to devote more time to his young family one of the prime motivating factors in prolonging his stay with a team he joined back in 2011.
“I’m obviously very happy to get it across the line,” Seymour said of the contract extension, which Glasgow announced earlier today (Tuesday). “There were a lot of decisions to make. The ultimate one was that I’ve been here a long time and I love this club. The opportunity to stay here for what will be my tenth year in a place my wife and I love and our two kids were born – we’re incredibly happy. With the international stuff now behind me as well, I feel like I can give back to a club that has given me so much and be available for selection as much as possible.
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“I tend to try and keep my personal life quite private. Over the last few years there have been a few things going on, but I have a young family now. I’ve loved every single minute I’ve spent in an international shirt, but my priorities now are to see as much as I possibly can of my two young children and try to be the best father and husband. My wife has been an absolute trooper and I’m very lucky to have family in Northern Ireland who have been pretty much at beck and call.”
In retrospect, it is easy to see now when Seymour seemed particularly inconsolable after Scotland’s defeat by Japan at the World Cup. All his team-mates were no doubt distraught to have their involvement in the tournament ended at the pool stage, but for the winger there was the added sorrow of knowing it had been his last appearance for his country.
“There was a lot of emotions for me at the end of the Japan game for various reasons,” he explained. “One of them certainly was that, in my own head, I knew that was the last time I’d pull on a Scotland shirt.
“The opportunities I’ve had with the national side are some of the best experiences I’ve ever had. It really has been a dream come true and it’s given me so much. To know in the back of your head that you’re never going to experience such a wonderful thing again, it’s obviously very emotional.
“But the decision had long been made. The reasons behind it weren’t all so much to do with the actual rugby. That’s why my mind was never going to be changed.
“With the international stuff, in due course I’ll maybe speak more openly about it all. But for me it was a decision which was made quite a long time ago. It wasn’t so much a joint decision, in terms of whether to stay here at Glasgow and whether to retire from Scotland. The retirement decision had already been made in my mind. Then, when the chance presented itself to stay here, I thought the two did work well in the end.”
When Glasgow head coach Dave Rennie told journalists last Friday that a new deal with Seymour was imminent, he said: “We expect Tommy to be here long-term”. It was therefore a bit of a surprise to learn that the new agreement is only for a single season – although the player himself is certainly not ruling out further contract extensions.
“I’ve not really thought about that yet,” he added. “Next year is slightly different. My wife and I had conversations, but past next year, I’ve not thought too far ahead yet.
“My concentration right now is on Glasgow and producing good rugby for the next year and a half and trying to get us in a good position. With the transition of coaches next year as well [Rennie will leave and be replaced by current Scotland assistant Danny Wilson], I’m looking forward to working under a new regime and the new challenges that will present.
“I’ve dealt with Danny at the national side and I know from his background that guys think very highly of him, and from a human aspect he’s a wonderful guy. He’s easy to talk to and he’s a family man as well. We had a few conversations and I’m looking forward to working under him.”
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