Scottish rugby coaches who played a pivotal role in Stuart Hogg’s rise to the top of the world game have been honoured for their dedication and progressive approach to player development.
The group of seven received the sportscotland Coaching Chain award at the sportscotland Coaching, Officiating & Volunteering Awards ceremony in Stirling on Wednesday.
The chain includes the coaches who supported Stuart’s professional career with Scotland and Glasgow Warriors Gregor Townsend and Sean Lineen as well as BT Sport Scottish Rugby Academy coaches Bryan Easson and Iain Monaghan.
Hogg’s father, John, primary school coach, Mark Wright, and high school skills coach, John ’Rocky’ Johnstone, represent his earlier years in his home town of Hawick, signifying the important effect that fun and quality coaching can have on the enjoyment and success of players from an early age.
Scotland’s vice-captain to face Samoa tomorrow (Saturday), Hogg said: “I’ve had many coaches throughout my career and it’s the coaches from the very beginning that have the biggest influence on you. My dad was the first person to put a rugby ball in my hand and I absolutely loved it. I’d tried lots of different sports and rugby was always the one I enjoyed most.
“You have different guys at the different levels you’ve played at, like Mark Wright at primary school, who was tremendous, but I think the main guy for me would be Bryan Easson.
“I was getting to an age where I was starting to take rugby seriously and he believed in me right from the very beginning.”
BT Sport Scottish Rugby Academy coach Easson first met Hogg when he was playing for Borders U16 and foresaw the impact he could have at the highest level.
Easson said: “Winning the sportscotland Coaching Chain award is fantastic news and a great honour for all involved. I remember Stuart from the start, as he just had that something extra. He always ran well and was a dangerous attacker from an early age, but what always stood out was his eagerness to improve and drive to be the best.
“My lasting memory of Stuart is from when I was head coach of Scotland U17. He joined the squad on the morning of our game versus England and his performance that night was just outstanding. It really confirmed my initial thoughts that he could be the best in the world.”
sportscotland, the national agency for sport, created the award to recognise the hugely important role that coaches at all levels can have in helping elite athletes achieve their potential.
Hogg’s nominated chain epitomised the progressive, player-centred support needed to help sportsmen and women reach the highest level.
Scotland head coach, Gregor Townsend, said: “I’m delighted that Stuart has thought of me as part of his coaching chain, as it’s been a real pleasure coaching him at professional and national level. He has worked hard to develop an excellent all-round skillset and he has a great ability to influence games.
“The way he plays the game has given us coaches and rugby supporters throughout the land great joy. Long may it continue!”
Chief executive of sportscotland, Stewart Harris, said: “The Coaching Chain award focuses on the incredible dedication of the coaches who have helped Stuart Hogg during his remarkable career. These inspirational individuals have been with him every step of the way, encouraging and assisting him as he became one of the most recognised names in the sport and a key player in the Scotland national team.”
The Stuart Hogg Coaching Chain features: John Hogg – Stuart’s dad and the first person to place a rugby ball in his hands.
Mark Wright – Stuart’s primary school coach at Trinity Primary School, also instrumental in fostering energy and enjoyment in the game at an age, when it is hugely important.
John ’Rocky’ Johnstone – Stuart’s strength & conditioning and skills coach throughout school up until U16 at Hawick High School. John was Hawick Academy manager and in constant contact with Scottish Rugby to ensure Stuart was up to speed and at the top of his development.
Bryan Easson - Present throughout Stuart’s career from Borders U16 to Scotland U20 as a BT Sport Academy Coach, Bryan was his first age-grade Scotland coach at U17 and an important influence on his skills development.
Iain Monaghan – BT Sport Academy coach (Glasgow Warriors) and Academy manager when Stuart signed for Glasgow Warriors. Instrumental in ensuring Stuart had the best possible experience as he began his professional career.
Sean Lineen – Stuart’s first senior professional coach at Glasgow Warriors, who introduced Stuart to his position as full-back.
Gregor Townsend – Backs coach at Scotland when Stuart won his first cap and, later, head coach at Glasgow Warriors and Scotland. Townsend has been enormously influential on Stuart’s development as a player.
Pictured, from left, Sean Lineen, Mark Wright, Stuart Hogg, Bryan Easson, John Hogg and John ‘Rocky’ Johnstone.Not in the picture – Iain Monaghan.