Hogg ready to do his very Best for Scotland

Flying full-back related to football legend can make France drown sorrows

Sadly, the great Bill McLaren is not around to wax lyrically about Stuart Hogg, the latest son of his beloved Hawick to make it into the Scotland team. Still, as Jonathan Davies – the voice of rugby's old sidekick in the BBC commentary box – observed when the 19-year-old full-back-cum-centre made his debut off the bench against Wales in Cardiff a fortnight ago: "He's got something about him."

He has indeed. And not surprisingly so, given the family link that has come to light this week. The young man, who will become the first teenager to start for Scotland for 40 years when he lines up at full-back against France on Sunday, happens to be related to George Best.

"It turns out my granny's granny was the sister of George Best's great-grandfather," Hogg said. "A lady from Northern Ireland got in touch with my dad's cousin in Hawick after I played against Wales, sending a newspaper article and a phone number to ring. My dad's mum and dad unfortunately died young and my dad's always wanted to find out about his family history, and he found out through this lady that he's related to George Best. It is pretty amazing. My dad was in tears on the phone when he found out."

Best was 18 when he made his international debut, on the right wing for Northern Ireland against Switzerland in Lausanne in 1964. He was somewhat past his best when he came to Edinburgh to play for Hibernian. On one occasion, in 1980, officials turned up at the North British Hotel at 11am on a Sunday to take him to a Scottish Cup tie against Ayr – only to find he had been in the bar drinking all night with Jean-Pierre Rives, the captain of the French rugby union XV, who was drowning his sorrows after a 22-14 defeat at Murrayfield.

Hogg will be 119 days shy of his 20th birthday when he lines up against the French. That will make him the youngest member of a Scotland starting XV since Jim Renwick faced France at Murrayfield, 28 days short of his 20th birthday, in 1972.

It just so happens that Hogg is mentored, in a programme run by the Winning Scotland Foundation, by Renwick, who won 52 caps as a centre. Both learned their rugby at Mansfield Park – the home of Hawick RFC that shares its name with the fictional gaff of Fanny Price in the novel by Jane Austen.

"Jim's a great man," Hogg said. "He's always keeping me composed and keeping my feet on the ground. He's been amazing for me. I've seen a couple of his games on ESPN Classic. You must be getting old if you're on that. Obviously I've heard all the good things about Jim from my dad. And I think Jim's told me a few times that he was pretty good as well."

Hogg was pretty good when he stepped off the bench in Cardiff to make his debut, as a replacement for the injured Max Evans. In his bright yellow boots, he produced some dazzling footwork and the kind of instinctive running from broken play that has been missing from Scotland's game for some time.

The Glasgow player, who was still an apprentice at the start of the season, also produced what television replays showed should have been a valid try – after the French referee Romain Poite had mistakenly ruled that he had knocked on.

"He spoke to me at the post-match function and apologised," Hogg said. "I fully respect him for doing that but it was a wee bit too late, as far as I was concerned."

Jonathan Davies was not the only former Welsh great purring about Hogg's 55-minute contribution in Cardiff the weekend before last. The recently retired wing Shane Williams was also fairly enthusiastic in his praise.

The mentor of the new bright young thing of Scottish rugby was pretty impressed too. "A lot of people have been saying it's been a breath of fresh air, seeing someone taking on a man and beating him on the outside," Renwick said.

Especially in a Scotland jersey, he might have added.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
musicOfficial chart could be moved to accommodate Friday international release day
Wes Brown is sent-off
Italy celebrate scoring their second try
six nations
Glenn Murray celebrates scoring against West Ham
footballWest Ham 1 Crystal Palace 3
Arts and Entertainment
Drake continues to tease ahead of the release of his new album
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Chelsea vs Tottenham: Harry Kane was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope

Harry Kane interview

The striker was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope
The Last Word: For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?

Michael Calvin's Last Word

For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?
HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review