Around 140 people attended Mansfield Park on Sunday as Hawick RFC paid tribute to two of its finest players from the modern era.
The club was proud to acknowledge Stuart Hogg, who has won more Scotland caps than any other former Greens player, and Darcy Graham, the most recent ex-Hawick man to wear the coveted blue jersey.
With Hogg about to start a new chapter in his club career, with Exeter Chiefs, and Graham having made a scintillating contribution to Scotland’s Six Nations campaign this year – all with a World Cup on the horizon – it was a very proud occasion for the players, their families and friends, and associates of the club.
Robbie Dyes president Rory Bannerman proudly pointed out that Hawick had spawned more international players than any other rugby club in the world – and there was immense pride as a photo of Darcy, with a Scotland cap, became the latest addition to the clubroom picture gallery.
Rory also praised the financial and practical support support for the club of groups such as the Hawick Centuriions, while there was musical entertainment by Henry Douglas and stand-up comedy from Scott Glynn.
Former Gala star and Scotland’s national head coach Gregor Townsend made an appearance too, taking part in a Q&A session.
He touched on the emotional highs and lows of the Six Nations games against England this year and in 2018 – and the celebrations after the latter – his experiences of playing rugby abroad, the cruel last-minute loss to Australia in 2015’s World Cup, his thoughts on the future of the game and, of course, praise for the two men of the moment.
“I think everyone in this room is looking forwad to the game when they both play together for Scotland,” he said.
He praised the club’s gesture, adding: “You have shown Darcy and Stuart how much you think of them with the tribute given to them today.
“What a credit to the town they are and to the club – not only as people but as rugby players. They are the most exciting rugby players to watch right now, and to come through this system, and through this town, is brilliant.
“Both are players you get excited about when they get their hands on the ball and the crowd get on their feet.
“It will be great to see them play together. They both have big futures with Scotland.”
Darcy and Stuart also answered a few questions from the floor about previous matches, making the breakthrough to international status and the help they’d had from others during their careers.
Injured Hogg was a spectator for that astonishing 38-38 Six Nations draw at Twickenham but said: “I was very proud to be a Scotsman and proud to see how the boys wanted to play and perform under Gregor. We are in a good place.”
Two-try Darcy said: “I’ve never experienced anything like that before and probably never will again.”
He also told how he was “shaking” when he texted his mum Leah to tell her he’d been selected for Scotland for the first time, as a sub at Cardiff in 2018.
Hogg’s time with Glasgow Warriors sadly ended in another injury-enforced departure, as the Scotstoun men lost 18-15 to Leinster in last month’s Pro 14 Grand Final, but felt he’d made the right move and was looking forward to a new direction in Devon.
He was very glad of the chances he’d had to play with such great teams.
At Glasgow, the side had been going for trophies over the last six or seven years, while Scotland were on an upward curve.
“They (both) play an expansive, exciting brand of rugby that I love to be involved with,” he added.
“As soon as you get dominance up front, you can see how good the back line can be.”
Darcy, who plays for Edinburgh, said he hoped to carry on showing what he could do but also work hard, stay involved in games and to try to be consistent and do well for the team.
Both said they had enjoyed the day immensely and were very grateful to the club for staging it.
Gregor Townsend added: “They are special players, with the ability to light up a game. It’s great to see the club acknowledging what they have done and how they have put Hawick in the map again.
“Doing it now is great, because they have a big summer ahead of them.”