Stuart Hogg admits defeat in bid for Scotland World Cup swansong as he announces immediate retirement

Stuart Hogg has admitted that his body will not allow him one last hurrah as a Scotland player after the 31-year-old announced his immediate retirement from professional rugby.

The former Scotland captain, who has represented his country 100 times, had hoped to call time on his career after the tournament later this year, but in an announcement on Sunday lunchtime, Hogg revealed that he would not make the tournament in France this autumn.

The Scotland centurion has been battling fitness issues for many months and his final appearance at Murrayfield was the 22-7 defeat by Ireland in the Six Nations back in March. He retires as one of Scottish rugby’s most decorated players. The Hawick-born full-back made his debut against Wales in 2012 and went on to become the country’s record try-scorer, as well as winning the Gallagher Premiership and Heineken Champions Cup with Exeter Chiefs and the PRO14 tile with Glasgow Warriors. He played in two World Cups, countless Six Nations as well as representing the British and Irish Lions.

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Announcing his immediate retirement, Hogg said: “It is difficult where to start but with great sadness and an enormous amount of pride, I am announcing my immediate retirement from playing rugby.

“I fought with everything I had to make the Rugby World Cup but this time my body has not been able to do the things I wanted and needed it to do. We knew this day would come eventually, I just never thought it would be this soon.

“It’s hard to put into words just how much of an impact the game has had on my life. I will be retiring knowing that I have given my body and heart to rugby. I will be forever grateful to this amazing community and cannot wait to begin my journey as a proud supporter of the team.”

After this year’s Six Nations, Hogg had explained his intentions to quit rugby after the World Cup and hinted at pursuing a career outside of the sport, but his decision to quit now leaves head coach Gregor Townsend with a big call to make at full-back for the tournament, which starts in September and incorporates group matches against defending champions South Africa, France, Tonga and Romania. Ollie Smith and Blair Kinghorn are the likely candidates to fill Hogg’s shoes in the first XV.

Townsend paid tribute to Hogg, saying: “Following Stuart’s news we would like to wish him all the best in his retirement. He has been an outstanding player for Scotland and has had a career lit up with so many achievements, highlights and special memories.

“I have had the pleasure of coaching Stuart for the majority of his career, and he was a joy to work with and watch on the training field and in games. He had a love for so many aspects of the game, and not only got joy from taking on defenders with ball in hand but also putting his teammates into space. His basic skills and speed set him apart from other players, and it has been an amazing effort to play Test rugby for the past 11 years.

“To reach 100 caps this year was fitting and just reward for a career that has seen him represent the British & Irish Lions and win trophies both domestically and at a European level.

“We respect his decision to step away now and understand the stresses and challenges his body has gone through in recent seasons. He has been an integral part of our squad for many years, as well as captaining the side to famous victories over England and France in 2021, and we all wish him well in his career post rugby. We look forward to welcoming him back to support us from the stands.”

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Mark Dodson, CEO of Scottish Rugby, said: “I’d like to thank Stuart for his immense contribution to rugby in Scotland so far. He has truly been a superstar for our game and along the way set records and reached milestones which his talent and application richly deserved.

“There have been numerous highlights during his club and international career and few players had the ability to ignite a crowd like Hoggy. Naturally we have all seen him develop as a player and a person over the course of his career and I know how proud Hoggy has been to represent Scotland throughout his 100 caps and when captain of his country.

“Like all fans we will miss him as a player and wish him all the very best with the next chapter of his life.”