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.

Sport
sportWWE latest including Sting vs Triple H, Brock Lesnar vs Roman Reigns and The Undertaker vs Bray Wyatt
Arts and Entertainment
Louis Theroux: By Reason of Insanity takes him behind the bars again
tvBy Reason of Insanity, TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Cassetteboy's latest video is called Emperor's New Clothes rap
videoThe political parody genius duo strike again with new video
Arts and Entertainment
tvPoldark, TV review
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor
How to make your own Easter egg: Willie Harcourt-Cooze shares his chocolate recipes

How to make your own Easter egg

Willie Harcourt-Cooze talks about his love affair with 'cacao' - and creates an Easter egg especially for The Independent on Sunday
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef declares barbecue season open with his twist on a tradtional Easter Sunday lamb lunch

Bill Granger's twist on Easter Sunday lunch

Next weekend, our chef plans to return to his Aussie roots by firing up the barbecue
Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

The England prop relives the highs and lows of last Saturday's remarkable afternoon of Six Nations rugby
Cricket World Cup 2015: Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?

Cricket World Cup 2015

Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?
The Last Word: Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing