Scotland Sevens’ record try scorer Andrew Turnbull has made the decision to retire from professional rugby after more than a decade of entertaining crowds with his pace on the world stage.
The 33-year-old from Edinburgh has ended a glittering career in the abbreviated game, having played in 57 World Series events, scoring 151 tries to place him eighth on the all-time try scorers list. He also represented Scotland at three sevens World Cups in 2005, 2009 and 2013 and in the Commonwealth Games in 2006 and 2010.
When I ran out of the tunnel, I just remember the noise being unbelievableAndrew Turnbull
Turnbull also had a fine 15-a-side career, coming through the ranks at Watsonians before playing professionally for Border Reivers, Rotherham and Edinburgh Rugby. He earned seven under-21 caps and three “A” caps.
Turnbull will now turn his hand to PE teaching at St Leonards School in St Andrews where he has worked part-time during 2014-15.
He said: “I have been extremely lucky to have pulled on a Scotland jersey on many occasions and it has been a privilege to represent my country. I will take with me great memories of playing with and against top-flight players in amazing venues all over the world.
“I’d like to take this opportunity to thank everyone involved with my career, from George Watson’s College and Watsonians through to my professional career with the Borders, Rotherham, Edinburgh and the Scotland Sevens squad.
“Red Sky Management have helped me immensely, not just on the rugby side, but also in the planning and preparation for life away from rugby.
“Finally, and most importantly, thank you to my family for their support over the years.
“I’m looking forward to my career in teaching, having worked at St Leonards School as part of my double career track whilst playing professionally. I couldn’t have wished for a more enjoyable and supportive environment in which to begin my teaching career.”
As a youngster, Turnbull had the pace and finishing ability to really go far in the game. After scoring tries for fun with Watsonians, it was no surprise when a clutch of pro teams took a chance on him, but it was in the sevens arena that he would really find his calling.
“It was 2004 when I first got called-up to the Scotland Sevens team and I was due to play my first tournament in Hong Kong,” Turnbull said. “I knew that Hong Kong was the biggest sevens tournament going, but nothing could have got me ready for that atmosphere. When I ran out of the tunnel, I just remember the noise being unbelievable and after that weekend I thought ‘I want more of this’.”
At that time, the Scotland Sevens team was made up of young, up-and-coming pros and some talented club players, and they trained just once a week on a Wednesday night.
Turnbull added: “The other countries on the circuit were similar to us at the time and that has been the biggest shift over the years with a lot of the nations dedicating time and money to a full-time sevens squad.
“The contact area has become a lot more important and more contested and the World Series has grown and grown, but for me sevens has not changed as much as some people make out.
“The aim of the game is still to keep the ball away from the opposition as much as possible. I was never one of the most skilful players in the team, but I knew my job and I have always loved scoring tries. It is what gives me a real buzz.”
In those early days in the sevens squad, Turnbull enjoyed playing alongside players such as Kelly Brown and Al Strokosch who have gone on to impressive XV-a-side careers.
However, the man he has enjoyed playing alongside most – Colin Gregor – has been with him the whole way.
“Colin is a really clever rugby player and he always seems to create space out there on the pitch. The biggest compliment I can pay him is that we always seemed to not play as well when he wasn’t on the pitch. He was our driving force,” Turnbull said.
As he gets ready to up his workload at St Leonards after the summer the school’s director of sport Isabel Myles said: “Andrew brings great energy and enthusiasm to the classroom and his love of sport is evident in his teaching.
“He’s a popular teacher and our students have learned much from his wealth of experience as a Scotland player. We look forward to seeing him develop his role further in the years to come.”