John Hardie lasted less than 15 minutes on his return to action after serving a three-month suspension for “gross misconduct” after sustaining an injury that required surgery.
The Edinburgh and Scotland flanker was lining out for Hawick in their BT Premiership clash with Boroughmuir at Mansfield Park, with the Borderers’ 27-20 victory taking them a step closer to safety.
But 13 minutes in he suffered a nasty gash to his upper lip, bringing a premature end to his playing return and resulting in a dash to St John’s Hospital in Livingston for plastic surgery.
A spokesperson for Hawick confirmed that there had been an accidental clash of heads.
Hardie had been hoping to use his game time for Hawick to force his way back into Richard Cockerill’s Edinburgh plans and potentially the latter stages of the NatWest Six Nations tournament.
He had resumed training with the PRO14 side at the start of January, but the match against Boroughmuir was his main chance of proving his fitness ahead of the Six Nations.
Edinburgh assistant coach Duncan Hodge said at the time that Hardie “looks all right at training”, adding: “Not like you or I if we’d had a month off.”
However, his enforced retirement from the Premiership match must surely put his Scotland chances into severe doubt, with the flanker’s last competitive appearance coming in Edinburgh’s 37-14 win over London Irish in mid-October.