Quite possibly the greatest Scottish player of the professional era, former captain Stuart Hogg shocked the Rugby World over the summer with a sudden retirement.
The 31-year-old had initially announced that he would retire at the conclusion of this year’s Rugby World Cup but instead stood down for selection at the beginning of pre-season.
Revealing the heart-breaking moment that he realised his time in the navy shirt was over, Hogg said, “I felt I was miles off the pace. Going through the speed gates, I was the slowest back. I’d never been that before. I was in agony with the hard pitches and double sessions. I just got to the point where I was knackered, physically and emotionally. We had a little holiday, and I came back here and said to Jill, ‘I can’t do it anymore.”
Having made the decision, Hogg then decided it was best not to prolong the inevitable.
“But I’d rather stop now when I’m happy than go to a World Cup and not feel like myself and not achieve the standards I set myself and not enjoy it. The love of the game was gone, and when it’s gone, it’s very, very hard to get back as a player.” He said.
Whilst Rugby fans will be sad not to see Hogg feature on the pitch, he will be in France for the tournament as an analyst for sports channel TNT Sports.
Joining former England winger Ugo Monye, Hogg was tasked with predicting his winner of the Rugby World Cup.
As a former Scottish captain, Hogg would’ve been forgiven for backing his countrymen, but instead, he opted for what his head told him instead of his heart.
Predicting his old team would crash out in the group stages, Hogg picked South Africa and Ireland to emerge from Pool B where they will face France and New Zealand respectively.
On the other side of the draw, Hogg made the bold call to see England through to a semi-final where they would be joined by Eddie Jones’s Australia.
Thus setting the stage for a pair semi-final match-ups which would see France meet Australia whilst Six Nations rivals Ireland and England did battle.
With the semi-final predictions in, Hogg would go on to explain that he felt the top two ranked teams in the world, Ireland and France, would meet in the final.
From here, the hosts would emerge victorious claiming just the second title by a northern hemisphere side.