Scotland’s record try-scorer Stuart Hogg, Lion #783, has announced his retirement from rugby with immediate effect.
Hogg, a three-time British & Irish Lions tourist, had initially planned to hang up his boots after this autumn’s Rugby World Cup but said in a statement that “my body has not been able to do the things I wanted and needed it to do”.
An electric full-back, Hogg made history during the 2023 Six Nations by winning his 100th cap for Scotland, a feat only achieved by three others.
It has been some journey, with Hogg making his professional debut for Glasgow Warriors at 18, before going on to represent Scotland and The British & Irish Lions, becoming one of his nation’s greatest ever players.
The full-back turned fly-half on Lions Tour duty has been a regular fixture for Scotland and the Lions over the past decade, but it has not all been plain sailing.
So, after joining Sean Lamont, Chris Paterson and Lion #772 Ross Ford in Scotland’s exclusive 100 club and as he prepares for the final months of his rugby career, we look at six moments that made Stuart Hogg.
1. Scotland debut
After thriving for Glasgow and Scotland U20, Hogg earned his first senior Scotland call-up for the 2012 Six Nations, aged just 19.
He missed out on the Calcutta Cup at BT Murrayfield, but found himself on the bench in Round 2 for the trip to Cardiff, poised to make his mark on the international stage as a fresh-faced teenager.
The opportunity came earlier than expected, with Hogg coming on for the injured Max Evans on the left wing after only 16 minutes.
That day did not go Scotland’s way, as Wales won 27-13 on the way to the Grand Slam, but it was a landmark day for Hogg, who had some impressive touches and found himself in the starting line-up at BT Murrayfield when France came to town a fortnight later.
It was on his first Scotland start that he scored his first Scotland try in a 23-17 defeat, and he would go on to start the remaining matches against Ireland and Italy.
2. Lion #783
After an excellent maiden Six Nations, 2013 proved to be a year of even more progress for club and country.
Named in the Pro 12 Dream Team after a stellar season for Glasgow, Hogg started in all five Six Nations matches, scoring against both England and Italy.
Those performances saw the full-back selected for The British & Irish Lions Tour to Australia, where, as the youngest player, he would be responsible for the safety of the Lions mascot, BIL.
He went on to make his Lions debut in the Tour opener against the Barbarians in Hong Kong, as Warren Gatland’s men raced away to a 59-8 win.
In the match against Combined New South Wales-Queensland Country, Hogg played the full 80 minutes at fly-half, scoring a try and four conversions in a 64-0 win.
He featured in five of the ten Tour matches, and although he did not make the Test team for this tour, he had made his mark on Tour as the Lions claimed a first Test series win since 1997.
3. 2017 Tour: what could have been
By 2017, Hogg was an established international and won his 50th cap during the Six Nations that year, while he had also won the Pro 12 with Glasgow in the 2014-15 season.
Thus, it was no surprise to see him called up to his second Lions Tour to world champions New Zealand.
Welsh stars Liam Williams and Leigh Halfpenny were both on Tour, while the likes of Elliot Daly and Anthony Watson could also play full-back, but Hogg was a strong candidate to start in the Tests and make his Lions Test debut.
He started in the opener against New Zealand Provincial Barbarians, which the Lions won 13-7, but disaster struck the next time Hogg took to the field.
After just 19 minutes in the match against the Crusaders, he chased after his own kick, running into teammate Conor Murray’s elbow, which resulted in a fractured cheekbone and saw him ruled out before the Test matches began.
4. Scotland captaincy
Not one to let heartbreak get him down, Hogg went on to become an even more prominent figure in the Scotland national team and in 2020, was named captain.
In his first Guinness Six Nations as captain, he led Scotland to three wins, defeating Italy, France and Wales – with the victory in Llanelli being Scotland’s first Championship win in Wales since 2002.
A year later, he led the side to even more success, as Scotland defeated England at Twickenham for the first time since 1983 and France at the Stade de France for the first time since 1999.
5. Third time lucky in South Africa
That form in the 2021 Guinness Six Nations, saw Hogg selected for his third Lions Tour, and this time there was pressure for Hogg to finally earn his Lions Test debut.
After initially missing out on the first three Tour matches due to Covid-19 enforced isolation, He captained the side in the wins over both the Emirates Lions and the DHL Stormers, before finally being named among the starters for the first Test against the Springboks.
He played the full 80 minutes as the Lions took a 1-0 lead in the series with a 22-17 win, before being named at full-back again for the second Test, which the Lions lost 27-9.
It was a long time coming, but finally Hogg was a Test Lion.
6. The record breaker
Hogg remained Scotland captain for the 2021 Autumn Nations Series as Scotland defeated Australia 15-13 to win three consecutive matches against the Wallabies for the first time since 1982.
The week after that, Hogg levelled Scotland and Lions legends Tony Stanger and Ian Smith, scoring a brace of tries in a 30-15 defeat to South Africa at BT Murrayfield to reach 24 international tries.
A week later and Hogg scored again in the 29-20 win over Japan, making him Scotland’s outright all-time top try scorer.
This announcement means he will not add to those history-making exploits but the Hawick flyer will forever be remembered as one of his country’s finest players.