Stanger praises Hogg
It’s 23 years since Tony Stanger scored a try against England that almost falls under the radar in terms of importance, given his Grand Slam-winning score in 1990 against the same opposition.
On what would be his 52nd and final Scotland appearance, though, Stanger notched his 24th international try, a tally that placed him level with 1925 fellow Grand Slam champion Ian Smith – who reached the same mark in a staggering 34 Tests.
Stanger is very much of the mindset that looking forward, rather than what’s come before, is the right way to look at life, although he admits age might be a factor in recalling vividly his 1998 all-time equalling try: “My daughter actually asked me about that recently and I couldn’t quite remember the game until she mentioned it!”, he quipped.
In the here and now, amid Stuart Hogg notching three Autumn Nations Series tries to go ahead of both Stanger and Smith on the list of Scotland scorers for the men’s national side, with 25 tries, Stanger is full of admiration for the current captain.
“He’s exactly the type of player in the modern era that people want to pay money to see. A triple British & Irish Lion, twice named Player of the Tournament in the Six Nations – these are big things.”, Stanger continued.
“And to have Darcy [Graham] and Rory [Sutherland] coming through at the same time, it’s good to see lads from the town I was born and brought up in representing Scotland. When I was a youngster, you’d walk into the Hawick changing room and it was filled with top players so to still be producing international players is quite something.”
As Hogg counts down to what could well be 100 caps in the Scotland jersey, a feat that only three men have achieved to date, Stanger also paid tribute to the staying power of the 29-year-old: “To have the longevity to play in that many games, especially these days with the competition for places where there’s always someone lurking around the corner to take that jersey, is amazing,” he added.
“He’s still a young man and he’ll score plenty more tries for Scotland. I’m delighted for him and not just because he’s from Hawick!
“He’ll go on to score a few more I’m sure, and that’s great for the young boys and girls in Hawick to inspire them to go and do the same one day.”
And talking of inspiration, Stanger was thrilled to see his former Scotland teammate Tom Smith deliver the match ball ahead of the recent South Africa game.
The pair only played alongside one another in a couple of Tests as their careers dovetailed, but such events create bonds that last the test of time, as Tony explained: “It was great that he was well enough to go to the game and deliver the match ball. He was a very quiet individual and a tremendous player for someone who wasn’t a monster compared to some of the Boks he played against.
“Any accolade given to Tom is fully deserved and I’m not surprised that the crowd responded as they did on the day.
“You forget the era that you were in when younger players come through as you’re retiring and when you look back you realise there’s a whole host of guys you’ve played with which can only be a good thing. It goes by in the blink of an eye, it’s scary.
“But you see people years later – I was at a Bill McLaren long lunch and bumped into the likes of Dougie Wylie and Dave MicIvor – and it never feels like the years have passed. That’s a nice thing and the memories come flooding back and it shows the power of sport. You build strong bonds with these teammates having been through various ups and downs with them over the years.”
It appeared to be only a matter of time before Stuart Hogg surpassed the stellar totals of Tony Stanger and Ian Smith to continue to create his own inspiring legacy like the great pair, and indeed the equally exceptional Tom Smith.