Stuart Hogg's dramatic rugby U-turn confirmed ahead of ex-Scotland captain's domestic abuse trial outcome

The 100-times capped full-back has officially penned a deal with French club Montpellier

One year and two days on from announcing his retirement from rugby, Stuart Hogg’s return has been officially confirmed by Montpellier.

The French club announced the signing of Hogg, Billy Vunipola and Nika Abuladze in a short statement on their website on Thursday.

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No length of contract was given but Mohed Altrad, the Montpellier club president, had previously intimated that it was a two-year deal with the option for a third year. He joins as a “medical joker”, which means he has been signed as an injury replacement, in this instance for Anthony Bouthier, the French international full-back who ruptured his cruciate ligament in May. He is likely to make his competitive debut on September 7 when Montpellier host Lyon in their Top 14 opener. Hogg, the 32-year-old former Scotland captain, announced his retirement with immediate effect on July 9 last year. The full-back had originally intended to retire after the 2023 Rugby World Cup but brought the decision forward and missed the tournament in France. He said his body could no longer cope with the effects of playing rugby at the highest level. However, after a year out he now feels ready to return.

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The statement from the club said: “Montpellier Hérault Rugby has officially announced the arrival of three new recruits starting this 2024/2025 season. Three experienced players of international calibre who will join the MHR squad when training resumes on Wednesday, July 17.” The statement goes on to confirm the arrivals of Hogg, Vunipola, the experienced England back-rower, and Abuladze, the Georgian international prop and a former team-mate of Hogg’s at Exeter. Hogg’s last competitive game was on April 30, 2023 when he came off the bench for Exeter Chiefs in their Champions Cup semi-final defeat against La Rochelle. He has endured a number of serious injuries over the course of a glittering career which began with Hawick and scaled the heights with Glasgow Warriors, Exeter and Scotland. He cited the litany of injuries as the reason for his retirement but is now ready to give the game another go. He appeared at Jedburgh Sheriff Court earlier this month after breaching a court order to avoid contact with his estranged wife, Gillian, by sending her "unpleasant" text messages. However, he was granted bail to allow him to travel to France to join up with Montpellier. Sentence was deferred until the outcome of a domestic abuse trial later this month, which includes a charge of stalking and controlling behaviour towards his wife over a seven year period.

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