Rugby: Beveridge hangs up his boots

FORMER Edinburgh and Scotland rugby star Graeme Beveridge is refusing to rule out a return north as he prepares to cut his teeth in coaching on the English club scene.

The 33-year-old former Scotland scrum-half, capped six times, has quit the professional game after learning he would need neck surgery to continue at the highest level with Bristol.

"I've had a good innings and, as the old clich goes, it's time to put something back into the game that has been good to me," said Beveridge.

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In fact, as one of the first 50 club players to commit to professionalism back in 1996, Beveridge takes justified pride in the fact that only ex-cap record holder Scott Murray, now with French club Montauban, has had a longer career.

He added: "It was a bit of a leap into the unknown when signing up for the original Edinburgh professional team from Boroughmuir who I'd moved to from Peebles.

"What I remember most was the fact that in those early days it was decided that, because we were professionals, we had to turn up for training each day in a collar and tie.

"By the time I finished a few weeks ago most of the Bristol lads were arriving in flip flops and shorts which is pretty commonplace in pro rugby nowadays!

"I can't blame Bristol, though, for not wanting to renew my contract given I'd spend next season recovering from neck and shoulder operations. But I will be able to play for West Country club Old Redcliffians who have asked me to do some coaching with them.

"At some point my family – my five-year-old son, Josh, is showing signs of wanting to take up the game – and I will return to Scotland when rugby involvement will probably be in my mind.

"But let's see how I get on with coaching while undertaking exams to qualify me to work in the financial sector."

As one of the pioneers of Edinburgh's debut season in European competition back in 1996-97, Beveridge made his debut from off the bench at Dax.

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Edinburgh lost heavily that day against opponents full of traditional Gallic flair and already much further down the professional road. But, clearly, Beveridge did something right because he was upgraded to a starting slot for the subsequent pool tie against Treviso at Myreside.

The following season brought two starts, against Biarritz and Perpignan, although by this stage Edinburgh were relegated to the second-tier Shield competition after a disappointing domestic tournament based on four district teams.

Beveridge added: "Soon after, the SRU cut the number of districts to just a couple and that was a worrying time before I got fixed up with Glasgow from where I was privileged to win caps. Looking back I could count myself unfortunate that my scrum-half career coincided with the likes of Bryan Redpath and Andy Nicol which may have been a factor in my polishing the Scotland bench for around 15 matches.

"But very few get to wear the Scottish jersey once, never mind the six caps I finished with and you couldn't ask for a better international debut than the one I had in 2000 at Eden Park, Auckland, against an All Blacks team whose back line included Jonah Lomu, Christian Cullen and Tana Umaga!"

Beveridge, whose last Test appearance was in current coach Frank Hadden's first match in charge, away to Romania in 2005, added: "Debuting against the All Blacks is undoubtedly a playing highlight and not a bad memory to bow out of pro rugby with.

"But who knows what challenges coaching might hold in the future?"