Stuart Hogg: Praise for record-breaking full-back as he racks up two significant landmarks
The skipper became the most capped male full-back in tier-one Test rugby history and then scored a brace of tries to draw level with Ian Smith and Tony Stanger on the all-time Scotland list. The three men have each scored 24 times.
Townsend fully expects Hogg to beat that mark - he could do it as early as next Saturday against Japan - but the coach was even more impressed by the full-back’s longevity.
The South Africa match was Hogg’s 87th start at full-back in a Test match (85 for Scotland and two for the British & Irish Lions), moving him ahead of Rob Kearney, whose tally of 86 comprised 84 outings for Ireland and two for the Lions.
“I think the first [record] of becoming the most capped full-back in world rugby history is the main one,” said Townsend. “That’s outstanding and shows what a great player Stuart has been on a consistent basis.
“And the day he does break that record, he scored two tries for his team against the world champions, so that just shows the quality of the player.
“And to equal the try-scoring record, I know that is an individual thing, and we’re all confident that he’ll go on and break the record over the next few games or years – because he’s got a lot of years left in him.
“He’s been a brilliant captain for us over the last two seasons, and he showed his quality again today.”
At 29, Hogg is at the peak of his powers and, all being well, is likely to play for Scotland for several more seasons. He has now equalled celebrated wingers Smith and fellow Hawick man Stanger on the 24-try mark.
Smith, a Grand Slam winner in 1925 and captain of the Triple Crown-winning side in 1933, took just 32 Scotland matches to reach the total. Stanger, who scored the Grand Slam-winning try against England in 1990, played 52 times for Scotland.
Speaking immediately after the match, Hogg said he was too disappointed by the defeat to give the records much thought. Townsend was equally downcast but urged his players to use the feeling as fuel for their next meeting with South Africa which is likely to come at the 2023 Rugby World Cup in Marseille.
“I think we’ve got to take the defeat on board and use that disappointment we’re all feeling in the changing room, and which I’m sure the supporters all feel, and learn from it,” said the coach.
“We’ll play South Africa again in two years’ time, we’ll play other teams similar to South Africa, we have to be better for that experience.
“You also learn from the opposition. They are world champions for a reason so anything we can take out of that to make us a better team, we’ll take that on board.
“Obviously, the defeat will stick for a while because we didn’t put our best performance out there, and we felt our best performance would get us a win – so that will hurt for a few days.”
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