Graham Hogg appointed as Hawick head coach ahead of next Scottish Premiership rugby season

Then interim head coach Graham Hogg watching Hawick's 16-3 Scottish cup semi-final win at home to Currie Chieftains at Mansfield Park in April (Photo: Grant Kinghorn)Then interim head coach Graham Hogg watching Hawick's 16-3 Scottish cup semi-final win at home to Currie Chieftains at Mansfield Park in April (Photo: Grant Kinghorn)
Then interim head coach Graham Hogg watching Hawick's 16-3 Scottish cup semi-final win at home to Currie Chieftains at Mansfield Park in April (Photo: Grant Kinghorn)
Graham Hogg has been appointed as head coach of Hawick, last rugby season’s Scottish Premiership table-toppers, after taking over on an interim basis for the last three matches of that campaign.

The 36-year-old, elder brother of former Scotland captain Stuart Hogg and son of ex-Hawick director of rugby John, says he’s delighted to be given the chance to take charge of his home-town club on a more permanent footing and is looking forward to the season ahead, beginning with a trip to Edinburgh Academical on Saturday, August 31.

Hogg, formerly backs coach for the Greens, will be assisted by two ex-Scotland internationals, Scott MacLeod and Allan Jacobsen, with pre-season training starting next week.

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MacLeod, drafted in to help out for last season’s three fixtures after the departures of previous head coach Matty Douglas and forwards coach Lewis Bertram in April, will carry on as forwards coach and his former Edinburgh and Scotland team-mate Jacobsen will be a specialist scrum coach.

Scott MacLeod, lineout coach for Newcastle Falcons at the time, pictured in August 2022 (Photo by Getty Images)Scott MacLeod, lineout coach for Newcastle Falcons at the time, pictured in August 2022 (Photo by Getty Images)
Scott MacLeod, lineout coach for Newcastle Falcons at the time, pictured in August 2022 (Photo by Getty Images)

Hogg’s involvement with his home-town club goes back decades, having played at Mansfield Park, mostly at inside centre, from the age of 16 until a move to Italian club Biella in 2013 and he’s been development officer there since 2021, adding coaching the senior side’s backs to that role a year later, and he’s now hoping he can help them continue their successes of late, including winning 2023’s premiership title and the Scottish cup this year and last.

“It’s obviously a real privilege to come full circle and be given the opportunity to lead my home-town team,” he said.

“I’ve been involved as backs coach for the last couple of seasons, which I’ve really enjoyed, and it’s a really exciting time to be taking over.”

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Next season will see the premiership expanded to a dozen teams for one term only and an influx of semi-professional talent is expected following the scrapping of the Fosroc Super Series this month, and that’s a challenge ex-Scotland sevens international Hogg’s looking forward to.

Allan Jacobsen playing for Scotland against Ireland at Dublin's Aviva Stadium in March 2012  (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)Allan Jacobsen playing for Scotland against Ireland at Dublin's Aviva Stadium in March 2012  (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
Allan Jacobsen playing for Scotland against Ireland at Dublin's Aviva Stadium in March 2012 (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

“Obviously, the landscape of Scottish rugby has changed over the last couple of months in terms of the Super6 going, so we’re getting back to what I’d class as a full premiership,” he said.

“We know it’s going to be a bigger test than it’s been for the last couple of years but I’m massively looking forward to it, especially with the guys I’ve got round about me. It’s an exciting time.

“I think we have to look forward to the challenge.

“There have been comparisons between Super6 and the premiership over the last couple of years, and there’s been a belief, especially with the Hawick squad we’ve got now, that we could compete at Super6 level and now’s our opportunity to find out.

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“It’s going to be slightly different. You look at teams like Ayr retaining a fair few of their Super6 players and I think Heriot’s will be strong too in terms of their player retention, so there are definitely teams that are going to present more of a challenge next season than they have over the last few years.

“To be brutally honest, we’ve maybe been challenged two or three times over the last couple of years, whereas every week’s going to be a challenge next season.

“A lot’s been said about Super6 but there are still a lot of good players in the premiership and for them to get exposure to these teams on a weekly basis is only going to benefit them.”

Hogg believes Hawick have got a bit of a head start on some of their rivals in that respect, having had a handful of players, such as Dalton Redpath and Fraser Renwick, come back after stints at the Borders’ Super6 side, Southern Knights, saying: “We got the benefit of that before the ending of the Super6 in terms of boys going out and testing themselves at that level but then wanting to come back for one reason or another.

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“They’ve added quality to our squad over the last couple of years, so we’ve got a little bit of a head start, with those boys having been involved in that other environment.”

Hogg says he enjoyed his time as interim head coach despite it ending with the Greens giving up their premiership title after losing this year’s play-off final 26-24 to Currie Chieftains at the start of May, their first defeat since the beginning of September and also their first on home turf since October 2019.

“It all kind of came as a bit of a whirlwind at the end of last season, to be perfectly honest,” he said.

“I wasn’t expecting anything like that, but when you get asked to stand in, like I was, I knew I wanted to do it, even though it was a difficult time and a difficult decision.

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“That was just about getting us through to the end of the season, but it’s completely different now as we’ll be able to put our own stamp on things and really work with the boys to make things better within the club.

“It was certainly difficult at the time and there was a lot of pressure on us.

“Ultimately we won two out of the three of them and we were bitterly disappointed to lose that final one but that was probably a step too far for where we’d been last season, to be honest.

“We didn’t hit the heights that we did the previous season for a number of different reasons and we got caught out at the end.

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“They were three enjoyable weeks despite that, but obviously everything we were doing was geared towards those three specific games so there wasn’t very much we could change within that timeframe.

“We’ve now got some plans in place and goals we want to reach during pre-season to give ourselves the best opportunity to play the sort of rugby myself and the other coaches envisage as being the best for us.”

Jacobsen, nicknamed Chunk, and MacLeod, both 45, have got almost 90 caps between them, the former having made 65 international appearances between 2002 and 2012 at prop and the latter 24 at lock between 2004 and 2011.

Explaining Jacobsen’s arrival, Hogg, also formerly a player for Inverclyde’s Greenock Wanderers and Scarborough in North Yorkshire, said: “Allan’s a really good friend of Scott’s, having played together at Edinburgh and Scotland.

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“Allan’s going to be massive for us. We’ve got an experienced front row but we’ve also got a lot of young props coming through, and for them to be able to learn from somebody of the calibre of Chunk is huge for us.

“I’m massively excited about our whole coaching group but when I found out that we’d got that one over the line, I was really, really happy.”

Hogg’s hoping to keep last season’s squad together for the campaign ahead, saying: “On the whole, we’ll basically be going with the same squad.

“At Hawick, we pride ourselves on the conveyor belt of players we’ve got coming through from the town.

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“If you look at the XV that played in the play-off final last season, they were all home-grown players bar maybe one or two.

“That’s something we really want to work on as a coaching group.

“We’ve got a lot of good young players who’ll be coming through over the next couple of seasons and we want to develop them as much as we possibly can.

“We’re all pretty development-minded as coaches so we want to work with what we’ve got.

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“Are we looking to bring some quality and experience in in certain positions? Absolutely, but that won’t be to the detriment of our own boys.

“We want to have XV or 22 home-grown players on the park at Mansfield every Saturday if we possibly can.”

Matt Landels will carry on as forwards coach for the Greens’ reserves, Hawick Force, with Ross Armstrong as backs coach, and Dave Cowan will continue to oversee strength and conditioning club-wide.

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