Well, well, well. The time has come for me to hang up my boots playing for Scotland… Unfortunately I could not fit my thoughts and memories of a 10 year international career into 140 characters on twitter so I now find myself ‘blogging’… What is written below is more about what it felt like for me to play for Scotland and the emotions involved rather than any particular event. Thank you for all the support over the years – it has meant a lot to me and my family.
I’ve loved playing for and representing my country.
There’s a plaque in each players’ cubicle which bears the name of greats from the past who have previously worn the shirt – an inspirational reminder of the legacy that we’re following. Seeing those great names, I’m always reminded of something that Jim Telfer once said: that the jersey is never really yours; it belongs to the nation and to the history of the team… you are only borrowing it for a time.
To run out onto Murrayfield is the stuff of dreams of any Scots boy who has ever picked up a rugby ball. I used to practice David Sole’s slow march of 1990 in my garden, used to stand ready to sing the national anthem, used to hear Bill McLaren’s voice commentating on my every move. I will never take for granted the privilege that I have been able to realise my childhood dream.
When we wear the Scotland jersey, we wear it for the thousands of fans that support us around the world; we wear it for the great players that have worn it before us; we wear it for our friends and our families, for our school teachers and our coaches; but we also wear it for that boy inside of us who has played these games a thousand times in his head, and for those who even now march around their gardens with a dream that they might one day follow us into battle with the thistle on their chest. For me, that is what playing for Scotland is all about.
When you’re out on that pitch, you just hope that you can make your own piece of history to add to that legacy… and when you get out there, where so many legends of the game have played before you, and the noise of the crowd is literally trembling through your bones, you know that every one of those faces and voices that are supporting you would do anything to be out there with you. That noise drives all that we do when we play – it is the inspiration of our teammates, our friends and our families, our dreams and our ambitions and the history of those who have gone before us; these are all the things that make us who we are as players and as a team, as a rugby nation.