Stuart Hogg's retirement will leave huge void in Scottish rugby - and he may not be only one waving goodbye

Stuart Hogg has become synonymous with the Scotland rugby team since his debut ten years ago, so his decision on Monday lunchtime to announce that he will retire from rugby altogether understandably sent shockwaves through the sport.

Hogg is a modern-day Scottish rugby legend: a former captain, 100 caps, winner of the PRO12 with Glasgow Warriors, the Heineken Cup and Gallagher Premiership with his current club Exeter Chiefs, a British and Irish Lion who has taken part in three tours. Some would call him the team’s poster boy, an inspiration to kids, a fans’ favourite. When the Six Nations comes around in 2024, Hogg’s absence will be keenly felt.

By the time the World Cup concludes in the autumn, Hogg will be 31-years-old. Many will argue that is no age for a professional sportsman. Yet Hogg has crammed so much into his professional career since joining Glasgow Warriors in 2010. A stand-out when playing for Hawick, Heriot’s, Stirling County and the Scotland youth teams, Hogg fulfilled his potential and more with Glasgow, part of a swashbuckling team under Gregor Townsend that won the PRO12 title in 2015. It was no surprise to see a lucrative move to England come to fruition on the back of displays for club and country. He has been excellent for Exeter Chiefs, particularly in the 2019-20 season as the Devon outfit landed domestic and European honours.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Hogg’s form has dipped slightly in the past few years. Injuries have not helped, but perhaps the sheer volume of rugby played in his 20s is catching up with him, physically and mentally. Being one of Scotland’s elite sportsmen can be draining, his every move and word scrutinised. He held the Scotland captaincy for two years from 2020 until 2022 and it was clear some responsibilities that came with being team’s figurehead began to grate. Hogg alluded to his body not allowing him to play at his highest level and often players get caught out by their condition as the end of their career nears. Hogg said he wants to finish “at the top”, and the World Cup is no better place to do it. He has also reached the century mark of caps, a huge milestone for any player.

So many of his 27 Scotland tries will live long in the memory. A flamboyant player, Hogg’s imagination running with the ball and with the boot has enthralled a nation. Alongside his fellow playmaker Finn Russell, he can justifiably lay claim to taking this country’s professional era to another level.

Murrayfield should get three more sightings of Hogg before he hangs up his boots, in World Cup warm-up matches against Italy, France and Georgia. By that point, others may be saying their farewells too, the most notable being head coach Gregor Townsend as his contract expires after the tournament. There is no further update on his future. Russell will also be 31 at the end of the year but in a recent interview, he spoke about being involved in the 2027 World Cup. Thank goodness. Losing one star is bad enough.

Scotland, however, will have to find a new full-back. Glasgow’s Ollie Smith appears heir to the throne. But with Hogg ending a decade with the national team, Scottish rugby will have to brace itself for a new dawn without one of its most iconic faces.