Thoughtful playmaker Ruaridh Jackson calls time on distinguished career
Ruaridh Jackson admitted the terminus of his distinguished professional rugby journey was not a “fairytale” ending but looked back with pride on an “incredible” 14 years at the top of the sport.
The 32-year-old stand-off, whose versatility saw him play across the backline, mainly at full-back when not in his favoured first receiver role, was in his second spell at Glasgow Warriors. He first emerged there after coming through the academy system in 2006.
After a few memorable years playing for English giants Wasps and Harlequins, Jackson, who was also a talented international sevens player, returned to his home club in 2017.
His experience and versatility made an instant impression and he was voted the Players’ Player of the Season at the end of his first season back with the Warriors in 2018.
Jackson’s tally of 499 points puts the former Robert Gordon’s College, Aberdeen, pupil fifth in the Scotstoun club’s all-time points-scorers’ chart.
On the Test scene he was primarily in the playmaker role and won the first of 33 caps off the bench against New Zealand at Murrayfield in November 2010.
Born in Northampton but raised in the Granite City, his first points in a Scotland jersey came on home soil with a winning penalty in the 19-16 win against Samoa at Pittodrie.
Fittingly, his last appearance for his country also brought points as he scored Scotland’s second try in a 48-10 win over Canada in Edmonton on the summer tour of June 2018 as he started in the No 10 jersey.
A reliable, creative and thoughtful player, Jackson can look back on pride that he amassed 33 caps in positions that have been highly competitive. In his younger days Dan Parks was his main rival for the playmaker role, before the likes of Duncan Weir and Finn Russell emerged, while Stuart Hogg made the Scotland full-back slot his own.
Jackson started at stand-off in three of Scotland’s 2011 World Cup matches in New Zealand, which ended in a pool-stage exit in a tough group that included England and Argentina. He also represented Scotland at the 2018 Commonwealth Games, helping the Sevens team to a sixth-place finish on Australia’s Gold Coast.
“It has been one hell of a ride,” Jackson said. “From school and mini rugby coaches, Sean Lineen giving me the opportunity to sign my first pro contract, all the other coaches, medical teams, back room staff that I have worked with throughout the years, I want to say thank you – you have all played a huge part in my career.
“I’ve been so fortunate to live out my childhood dream of playing rugby, not just professionally but for my country. It’s been a journey that has allowed me to travel the world, make some incredible friends and without doubt has given me some of the happiest days of my life.
“It is not the fairytale ending I may have dreamt about, but I want to say a huge thank you to everyone who has been part of my 14-year journey as it has truly been an incredible one. I have achieved more than I could ever have dreamed of, but it is now time to embrace a new challenge.”
Outgoing Glasgow Warriors head coach Dave Rennie said: “Ruaridh is a top man whose contribution to our club has been immense.
“While most of his footy had been played at 10 historically, his impact at full-back for us over the past three seasons was impressive.
“He led our ‘Creck’, a group dedicated to driving our counter-attack, turnover and exit policies, where his composure and innovation created opportunities to attack from deep, whilst his ability to kick well off either foot was a real strength. An environmentally and community minded individual, Jacko has been a great role model for our squad regarding planning for life beyond rugby.
“We wish Ruaridh, [wife] Kirsten and their expected arrival all the best for the next stage in their lives.”
Jackson’s big break came in December 2008 when he produced a man-of-the-match tryscoring display in a thrilling but ultimately narrow loss, as the Warriors were beaten 35-31 by Bath in a Heineken Cup classic at The Rec.
Glasgow Warriors managing director Nathan Bombrys added: “Ruaridh is one of our all-time great Warriors and has had an outstanding career with the club.“In his two stints over his nine years with the Warriors he has played in some of our biggest games, finals and semi-finals at both fly-half and at full-back, and hangs up his boots with his name fifth in our all-time points scoring chart.
“He has always been an exciting player who gives everything he has to the club, and it was so impressive when he returned to the club in 2017 and had an outstanding season that saw him recognised as Player’s Player of the 2017/18 Season.
“Ruaridh has been such a tremendous servant to our club, on and off the field, and we hope he will stay connected to the club in the years to come.
“We wish Ruaridh and his wife Kirsten all the best for the next chapter in their lives.”
Jackson will now be able to focus fully on his business venture the Garden Shed Drinks company.
In his farewell message on Instagram he signed off: “I look forward to building a new career in the drinks industry. I will take all the learnings from my rugby career. Cheers, with Garden Shed gin in hand, of course.”
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