Ex-Melrose player George Taylor retiring from rugby at 25 due to concussion issues
The former Scotland age-grade international hasn’t played at centre for Edinburgh thus far this season due to concussion protocols, and that’s prompted him to call it a day and join the family firm back in the Borders, Earlston veterinary pharmaceutical supplier Merlin Vet.
Taylor has turned out for the capital club 38 times, scoring six tries, since making his debut there in November 2018.
“My decision to step away from rugby is ultimately down to health reasons, and I’ve got to think about my health for the future,” he said.
“I’ve had a history of head injuries that have set me back for months, so, after a lot of discussion with management and family, I’ve come to the conclusion that I should step away and move on to other opportunities.
“It’s certainly not been a quick decision. It’s been thought through ever since I got a concussion while in pre-season back in August.
“It’s been on my mind and I’ve made some sacrifices to try and prepare for life after rugby.
“I had a long conversation with my family prior to Christmas and they shared their opinions while not trying not to make a decision for me.
“My brother also retired due to head knocks and he gave me some good insight into how he was afterwards.
“You look back at photos of yourself at games with family and you quickly realise how important family is.
“Obviously, rugby means so much to me. I’ve been playing since I was six and this was one of the hardest decisions I’ve had to make in my life, if not the hardest.
“Throughout this all, the support of both the Edinburgh and Scottish Rugby medical teams has been massive and I’ll forever be thankful for their ongoing care and support.”
The former Earlston High School pupil started his sporting career at Melrose and, as a Scottish Rugby Academy contracted player, was part of their 2018 Scottish Cup and Tennent’s Premiership double-winning side.
He represented Scotland at under-18 and under-20 level, picking up seven caps altogether, and looked set to appear for the senior national team too after getting a call-up to the squad for their summer tests last year only to see that opportunity go begging due to those games being cancelled because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
“One of my proudest moments has got to be making my debut against Munster, playing against some huge names in the game and at one of the most famous stadiums in world rugby,” said Taylor.
“Making my first home appearance at Murrayfield against Southern Kings with my family supporting was absolutely amazing, then just playing at grounds such as the Principality Stadium and Racing 92’s La Defense Arena has been absolutely surreal.
“Just being in and around the group of boys at Edinburgh, it’s a special group and they are going to do very well and go very far.
“I spoke to the boys and told them my decision earlier this week.
“Driving into the stadium and walking into Murrayfield, I thought ‘this will be fine’, but then I saw all the boys sitting there and it was just a really emotional moment.
“I thanked them for everything they’ve done in my career. They’ve been a massive part of it.”
He’s now looking forward to a career off the pitch at his family’s Turfford Park company, founded in 1998, saying: “I’m out into the real world now and it’s daunting, but, as people say, one door closes and several open, and I’ve got to grasp these opportunities.
“Come July, I’ll be moving into work in finance with the family business and it’s something I’m looking forward to getting stuck into massively.
“I just want to thank all those that have supported me throughout my career – fans, players, coaches, family and friends.
“Despite the injuries, it’s been a privilege to play the sport I love professionally and I can honestly say I step away knowing that I gave everything to the game.
“I’m now looking forward to watching Edinburgh play as a fan and I will hopefully be able to catch up with supporters at a game very soon.”
Edinburgh head coach Mike Blair says he’s sad to see Taylor go but wishes him all the best for the future.
“We’re obviously gutted for George and we’ll be sad to see him leave the club because we’re losing a great player and an even better person who’s been an integral member of our playing squad for the last four seasons,” he said.
“It’s never easy to see any player step away from the game at a young age. However, health and family always come first, and it’s clear that George hasn’t taken this decision lightly in any way.
“Rugby is a sport he loves, so I can’t imagine how difficult it must have been for him.
“George is a great guy and someone that players and supporters respect massively because of his commitment to the jersey and the way he plays the game.
“He’ll be sorely missed by everyone connected to Edinburgh and we wish him the very best moving forward.”
Former Melrose head coach Bruce Ruthven, now in charge of Fosroc Super6 side Southern Knights, added: “I’m saddened to hear that George is retiring.
“It’s a huge decision and he’s done remarkably well, going from playing for Melrose to a pro career with Edinburgh.
“We wish him all the best for the future.”