Two Scotland Captains; Hogg and Tait, Hawick men through and through.

Two Scotland Captains; Hogg and Tait, Hawick men through and through.

Last month, 19-year-old Rhys Tait was announced as Scotland U20 captain for their forthcoming Under-20 Six Nations campaign.

In between training sessions last week he joined fellow Scotland captain and Hawick man Stuart Hogg, on the Official Scottish Rugby Podcast to discuss the special bond of their hometown, their leadership roles, and the Scotland U20’s preparations for their own Six Nations campaign.

HAWICK

Hawick, that small town in the Borders that just oozes rugby passion and history. As Bill McLaren said: “A day out of Hawick is a day wasted.”

In the last few weeks alone, six players who proudly call their hometown Hawick have been selected into Scotland squads: Stuart Hogg, Darcy Graham, Rory Sutherland, Lisa Thomson, Lana Skeldon and Rhys Tait.

Despite the decade in age between the two Scotland captains, both Hogg and Tait’s families have known each other for some time, as is always the case in Hawick.

When Tait moved more than 400 miles from Hawick to the South of England for University, Father John knew the perfect Hawick man to keep an eye on his son: Stuart Hogg.

The Scotland Captain said: “We had a conversation a couple of years ago because Rhys was moving to Exeter for Uni pre-covid and I said to his old man that I would look after him every now and then, if need be, but next thing here he is, back up in Hawick because of covid!

Tait recalls: “I remember first properly meeting Hoggy back in 2016 when I was about 13. I was holding his horse at Hawick Common Riding just before going up to the racecourse, but I’ve always looked up to him as a player.”

Hogg got told off for riding Hawick Common Riding that year – so we won’t linger on that for too long. Instead, it’s good to hear that Hogg himself, one of Hawick’s 13 British & Irish Lions, has his eye on the young back row.

"The last person I was told about from Hawick, that could seriously make it, and has a bit of talent was Darcy [Graham], and I really took note of that. The next person I’ve been told about has been Rhys. Stuart Hogg

“It was quality last week when we found out Rhys was going to be captaining the side, I sent him a message saying I was chuffed to bits for him.

“Everything that Rhys has done has been because of the sacrifices he’s made to get where he wants to be, just keep plugging away and I’ve no doubt he will be sitting alongside us [in the national team] very, very soon."

Tait in action for Hawick Albion in the Scottish Youth U16 Cup Final vs Ayr at BT Murrayfield in 2017

LEADERSHIP

With 11 Six Nations campaigns under his belt, and three as captain, there’s no better mentor for young Terie Tait to look up to when it comes to leading a team than Hogg himself.

Tait said: “I look to lead a bit like how I play.

“As a back-row, I like the big tackles, turnovers, and creating the big moments in the game that are going to get the boys up for it, that’s how I like to lead.”

Hogg takes a very person-centred approach to leading his team. He said: “Every time I’ve come into camp over the last couple of years, I’ve felt the squad has improved.

“The cohesion we’ve [National Men’s side] got off the field to me speaks volumes for everything that happens on the field. As a captain, it’s all about knowing the players as people as well as rugby players.”

Tait agreed: “Similar to what Hoggy does, I just like to get to know all the boys, with it being a new group every year with U20 it’s a bit harder for us but we’ve been doing a lot of social things to get to know everyone.

"There’s lots of other leaders within the squad that I can look to help me as they look after their wee circles like big Max Williamson who leads all the lineouts in the forwards and Toony Junior [Christian Townsend] in the backs.

“I’ve still got a lot of learning to do with it being the first time I’ve been captain, but I can take a wee leaf out of Hoggy’s book hopefully.”

PREPARATIONS 

Preparations for this year’s Under-20 Six Nations campaign started back in December 2021 with residential camps in Largs with Scotland’s National Men’s team coaches.

Tait said: “It was really influential, because we came off the back of a tough Six Nations last year to get those first few sessions with the national coaches really got a few boys going.

“It obviously really helps a lot of the younger boys who are just coming into the environment for the first time. We’ve had about four internal games too, so we’ve had plenty preparations anyway.”

Although last year’s young Scotland U20 team didn’t record a win, Tait takes a lot of experience from that campaign where all fixtures were held in Cardiff.

Fast forward seven months and the age-grade side have a new Head Coach in former Glasgow Warriors Assistant Coach Kenny Murray. Tait said: “I knew Kenny from Glasgow, so we had a good relationship already.

“He’s very switched on; a lot of the boys have been really impressed with him. He’s only been with us a couple of weeks, but he knows exactly what he wants to work on with the boys and what needs to be done.

“There’s been a lot of focus on defence as that’s what he did at Glasgow. That suits me as I love it. He’s been really good to work with so far.”

New Scotland U20 Head Coach Kenny Murray at training

A PARTING THOUGHT

On Christmas Day last year Rhys’ Grandfather Ronnie Tait sadly passed away aged 85. He had played for Hawick Linden during the 1950’s and 60’s and had passed on his love and passion for the game to son John and to Rhys and his brother Corey – a love which had helped get young Tait to where he is today.

"If I was to look back at 12-year-old Rhys when I was down at the Volunteer Park watching Hawick Linden, this is what I dreamt of doing."

Despite the loss in the U20 opener against their English counterparts, Tait will take positives from the first-half performance, the team’s physicality and scoring four tires against the Grand Slam winners from last year.

Although grandfather Tait couldn’t be there to see his grandson captain a Scotland side, he was there in spirit. You could see it the passion and emotion in Rhys face during the national anthem. As grandfather Tait was once heard to say: “Oor millionaires and o deh ken it!”.

Ross McKnight, Ollie Leatherbarrow and Rhys Tait line up for the national anthem in Scotland's opening game of the Under-20 Six Nations against England. 

Spread the word

Newsletter Sign-up

Sign-up for our newsletter today to receive the latest updates, content and releases from Scottish Rugby.

Sign-up

Principal Partners

BT
Macron
Peter Vardy logo