Ally Hogg has announced he will retire from professional rugby at the end of the current season after a career which has included 48 Scotland caps and 175 appearances for Newcastle Falcons.
The 35-year-old scored the dramatic last-minute winner less than a week ago as the Falcons ended their 20-year wait for an away win at Leicester Tigers, and the back-row forward hopes to bow out on a high after propelling the club into their first ever Aviva Premiership semi-final.
A sold-out Kingston Park Stadium crowd will get to show their appreciation one last time on Saturday when the Falcons host Wasps in the final round of the Aviva Premiership regular season, Hogg saying: “It’s always a sad time when you have to end one career and look on to the next one, but I’ve had a good run.
After a tremendous career which has included 48 Scotland caps and 175 appearances for Newcastle Falcons, back-rower @allyhogg83 will retire from rugby at the end of this season. Thanks for the memories, Hoggy, and best wishes for the future https://t.co/e0KxPm4b3j pic.twitter.com/X1Dq0phKHT
— Newcastle Falcons (@FalconsRugby) May 2, 2018
“I’m 35 now which is a decent age for a back-rower, and there have been many highs and lows along the way. Getting to do your hobby for a job is something you can’t put a price on, and I’ve had a fantastic time. I’m pleased with how things have gone but I feel it’s time now to try something different.”
Beginning his professional career in his native Scotland, Hogg said: “I’ve stuck with just the two clubs, going eight years with Edinburgh and eight years with Newcastle, and I’m glad I did it that way.
“I had a great time up in Edinburgh but I always wanted to try the English Premiership, and it has been everything I thought it would be.
“Things didn’t go so well at the start with Newcastle but it’s culminating with a place in the Premiership semi-finals, and the progression we’ve seen across all the competitions this season makes it the obvious time to bow out on a high. Now it’s on to the next chapter.”
Recalling his early years at Kingston Park Stadium, the dextrous forward said: “It was a bit of a dogfight when I first came down to Newcastle, to put it politely, and we had some tough years down near the bottom of the table.
“That chapter ended with relegation to the Championship in 2012, but with Dean Richards and Semore Kurdi coming into the club we had a real stabilising influence and a chance to build the club and the team that everyone sees now. It didn’t happen overnight, it has taken a lot of hard work and the professionalism of the whole group has been the driving force.
“There have been quite a few of us who have been here right the way through that transition, which is nice, and a number of those boys will be staying on to help take us up to the next level.”