Hogg’s retirement came as ‘surprise’ to Townsend

Hogg's retirement came as 'surprise' to Townsend


Gregor Townsend & Stuart Hogg
Gregor Townsend (left) says Stuart Hogg’s (right) retirement decision caught him off guard

Stuart Hogg’s decision to announce his immediate retirement from rugby earlier this month came as a “surprise” to Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend.

The former captain said in March that he intended to stop playing after this autumn’s World Cup in France.

But, despite starting Scotland’s training camp for the finals, the 31-year-old decided to retire immediately “with great sadness”.

“That first week of training, Stuart was in pain at times,” Townsend said.

“But he actually trained well. I remember messaging him at the end of that week saying, ‘Great to see you with a smile on your face at training’. The second week he trained with us again, but he didn’t train after that, then came to his decision when we were on a break.”

Hogg, who won 100 Scotland caps, said he “fought with everything” to try play a part in the World Cup, adding that “my body has not been able to do the things I wanted and needed it to do”.

But, despite the sorrow the former Exeter Chiefs and Glasgow Warriors man expressed at the time of his decision, Townsend says Hogg is “at peace” with the choice he has made.

“He felt like it was a weight off his shoulders,” Townsend added. “You may think it was inevitable once the decision was made, but it was a surprise because he trained with us at the beginning of the campaign.

“If it’s the right thing for him, and he seems to be really happy with that decision. We’ve got to credit him for what he did for Scottish rugby and letting us know at that time so we can move forward to the Tests.”

The Scotland head coach says Hogg’s retirement will provide “more opportunities” for Blair Kinghorn and Ollie Smith, who features in Townsend’s starting line-up for Saturday’s Test with Italy at Murrayfield, while Rory Darge will captain the side for the first time.


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