Lawson happy to go out on a high

Scotland and Newcastle Falcons hooker Scott Lawson today announced his decision to retire at the end of a successful season to take on a new role of Director of Rugby at the University of St Andrews.

Lawson started his rugby career at Biggar, before earning his first professional contract at Glasgow Warriors.

He then secured a move to the Premiership, plying his trade at Sale Sharks and Gloucester ahead of a five-year stint at Newcastle Falcons.

During his career Scott earned 47 caps for his country, which included a try-scoring performance in the national team’s opening match of Rugby World Cup 2007 against Portugal, and most recently featured a recall to the Scotland squad for the 2018 Six Nations, aged 36, after a four-year hiatus.

Lawson said: “Getting that recall at that stage in my career was a really nice way to finish. It’s the most recent memory and it’s one I’m very proud of.

“It definitely made the decision harder. It came at a time when I’d almost parked my ambition to play for Scotland after four years of not playing, at the age I am now, to then be given that opportunity.

“To experience the atmosphere of being involved again in Six Nations matches at BT Murrayfield and all the emotion and pride that goes with it, made it even harder to turn my back on it and move on.

“But, when you look at it realistically, I’ve had a 13-year international career and I’m up there with the oldest professional players to ever play for Scotland. I could have continued to play but it was the right decision to take an opportunity to join a world-class establishment in Scotland.

“From a lad from Biggar and being the first from the club to be capped for Scotland, I’ve really enjoyed my journey, from the first cap to my last."

For Lawson, however, the pipe and slippers remain tucked away in the cupboard as his resurgent Newcastle Falcons have made the end-of-season knockout rounds for the first time, with reigning champions Exeter Chiefs lying in wait at Sandy Park on Saturday 19 May, with a potential Twickenham final a week later.

“That’s the thing, at the end of the regular season you think you’re retiring but then you’re in play-off rugby,” he joked.

“From a ticking-a-box perspective, we [Newcastle Falcons] have played in Philadelphia, we’ve won at Kingsholm, the Rec, Franklins Gardens, Welford Road, had cracking home form all season and have reached the semi-finals, it’s been one of the most successful seasons for myself on the pitch.

“Add on being involved in the squad that won the Calcutta Cup, and the campaign as a whole, and it’s been an amazing season and it’s still not over.”

Alongside his playing commitments with the Falcons, Scott took up Elite Specialist Skills Coach roles with Scottish Rugby before being appointed as Director of Rugby at National Two North club, Tynedale, with the former Biggar man stressing that, while his timing of his new opportunity is fortuitous, he definitely falls into the category of ‘the harder you work, the luckier you get’.

“It is of course great timing to start this new role but this has also been three or four seasons in the making," explained Scott.

“I studied towards a Leadership and Management degree while I was still playing, I’ve done my coaching qualifications [Lawson completed his UKCC Level 3 this year], specialist skills roles with Scottish Rugby and was the Director of Rugby at Tyndedale.

“This was something that I wanted to go in to and it has taken a lot of foresight to get here, which meant that the timing of the opportunity almost made the decision for me."

He added: “To be a professional sportsman and to play for Scotland requires a ridiculous amount of sacrifice.

“The length of career I’ve had means a lot of it blurs into one but I’ll carry the lessons I’ve learned throughout that whole process into future life – hard work, resilience, how you conduct yourself, handling highs and lows.

“There have also been huge sacrifices made by my family during that time – training camps, summer tours, Six Nations, Autumn Tests – and all the stuff that goes with that, and on top of that allowing me to the time to develop my coaching.

"I’m looking forward to staying in rugby but also spending more time with my wife Ella and four children Fran, Orla, Quinlan and Ada.”

47-cap career

Scott captained Scotland U18 and went on to play U19 and U21 international rugby. His U19 honours included playing in all four of Scotland’s matches in the IRB/FIRA World Championship in France in 2000. He has also played for Edinburgh U16, U18, and U19.

He scored his first try for Scotland on his cap international debut in 2005 against Romania in Bucharest. His first World Cup appearance also was marked with a try, when Scotland beat Portugal two years later in St Etienne.

Lawson made his Six Nations debut as a replacement in Scotland’s 20-16 victory over France in the opening match of the 2006 championship and started in the following match against Wales.

After Rugby World Cup 2007, however, he did not return to the Scotland squad until the final match of the 2008 RBS 6 Nations Championship, when he played as a replacement against Italy in Rome.

Scott Lawson made his first RBS Six Nations start in eight years as Scotland won 21-20 against Italy in Rome in February 2014. The previous start he had enjoyed in the competition was also a Scotland victory in Italy.

In 2018, Lawson returned to Scotland at the age of 36 in his first 6 Nations game since 2014, coming off the bench in the opening match against Wales at the Principality Stadium.