Hogg always destined for the top according to fellow Centurion Paterson
In light of the approaching of that magic 100-cap mark, we spoke in November 2022 to Scotland centurion and the country’s leading Test points scorer, Chris Paterson, about some of the moments that have stood out in Stuart Hogg’s distinguished career.
Hogg’s is an international career that would rival the finest in world rugby, let alone Scotland’s own storied history. A 100th cap for the country will be won against Ireland, as the Hawick-born star becomes the fourth male player (and fifth overall; Donna Kennedy having won 115) to reach three figures.
From making his Test debut as a replacement in the 2012 Six Nations game against Wales in Cardiff, he went on to become the tournament’s Player of the Championship in both 2016 and 2017. Hogg has emerged as one of the greats of Scottish rugby, enjoying a glittering club career that has seen him win league titles for Glasgow Warriors and Exeter Chiefs as well as the European Champions Cup in 2020.
It was at a Base Rugby camp at Borders College that Chris Paterson first came across a bright-eyed youngster who was causing quite a stir. Chris takes up the story: “I was still playing, it would’ve been around 2010, and Richie Gray [defence guru] used to run a course at Borders College called Base Rugby. He asked me to come down and do a session with eight or ten guys. There was a stick-thin kid, about 17 or so, and Richie said to me: “Oh that’s Hoggy, he’s sharp, let’s play a bit of touch and tell me what you think.”
WATCH: A special Official Scottish Rugby Podcast Episode as Chris and Stuart discuss Stuart’s career to date.
“So I joined in and bear in mind I was still playing international rugby, some good rugby, and I thought ‘oh wow, this kid is special.’ To the point where he ran around me at one point and I almost got angry, which you’re not meant to get!
“I couldn’t get hold of him, just the sheer speed and fleet of foot. It really opened my eyes because young players can be excellent but they rarely have that rugby nous and ability to know what to do at the right time.
“I then got challenged to a goal-kicking competition and he beat me. So not only did I get rings run around me at touch, he then beat me in the goal-kicking!”
“It was just a stick-on that he would be a star.”
In April 2012, Hogg displayed some of that unbridled talent in a PRO12 game in an away fixture with the mighty Munster. As Chris explains, Hogg dazzled in the same manner he had at that youth camp a couple of years prior: “I kept an eye on him and not too long after, I think it was a few months after the 2011 World Cup, Glasgow played Munster and he scored a hat-trick. It was at Musgrave Park and I can vividly remember this player who you knew was going to be good, but in a tough environment against a top team, scoring a hat-trick.
“Three quality tries against a proper team and he made it look easy. It was just like watching him on that college course before, doing the same things but against Munster, away from home.
“It was that raw, enthusiastic speed and ability that underlined what talent he had and actually seeing it happen at such a level. It was such a breakthrough performance.”
Hogg has in the decade since become an all-time Scottish great, racking up countless moments of magic along the way. It was a record-breaking 26th international try in November 2021 that sticks in Chris’ mind, though: “There are a load of things to highlight from Stuart’s international career of course, but the for me is simply his beaming smile when he scored the try against Japan in the 2021 Autumn Nations Series to break the Scotland try-scoring record.
“I know him really well and I know what that moment meant to him in front of the South stand, gripping the ball tightly after he’d touched down and just that huge smile across his face.
“It was another raw moment of pure rugby and he’ll have been aware of the record – I was aware of it but fell a couple short! – and just right there it was a throwback to that young lad I first saw at Earlston, achieving something very special.”
As Scotland and Ireland go head-to-head at BT Murrayfield for no small matter of a Triple Crown, how fitting that such a game should also constitute the home team’s latest proud centurion.