Rugby’s most capped Scotsman, Ross Ford, has confirmed his decision to retire from playing the sport to take up a role bringing on the next generation of young players in the Scottish Rugby academy.
Ford earned his last – and record-breaking 110th – Scotland cap against Fiji on the 2017 summer tour and has brought an end to a historic career that was accompanied by close to 300 professional club games for Border Reivers and Edinburgh and a Test appearance for the British and Irish Lions on the 2009 tour of South Africa.
He won his first senior cap for Scotland when he was introduced as a replacement during the opening match of the 2004 autumn Tests against Australia at Murrayfield around two years after making a positional switch from back-row to hooker.
Immensely experienced in a hooker position where weakness – physical, technical or mental – would be exposed ruthlessly, the SRU believe the Kelso man is well placed to begin work on the next chapter of his career, helping to develop the strength and conditioning of the most prominent young players in his home region of the Scottish Borders.
He said: “I always enjoyed the S&C side of things. It was always a big part of my game and it was something I was good at. Later in my career I took a big interest in it and it became something I wanted to do after I finished playing, so I was really keen when this opportunity came up, especially being a Borders lad as well.
BREAKING | ?Rugby’s most capped Scotsman, Ross Ford, today confirmed his decision to retire from playing the sport to take up a role bringing on the next generation of young Scottish players in the Fosroc Scottish Rugby academy.https://t.co/ZMDlc8BJs1
— Scottish Rugby (@Scotlandteam) June 27, 2019
“There’s a lot of talent here so if I can help them develop and make this one part of their game world class then, hopefully, they’ll come through and go on to bigger and better things.
“I’m looking forward to getting in there and passing on some of the things I’ve learned and show a level of work ethic they can follow and stand them in good stead to be the best player they can be, setting the tone wherever they go.
“I’d like to think I’m in a good place to pass a lot of that on so it’s quite an exciting time. It gives me something to go into with a lot of energy and will allow me to keep getting a buzz from the game.”
Looking back on his career, Ford added: “I’ve been very fortunate. I’ve had a long career in the sport and have been able to represent my country at the highest level, playing in a lot of great places around the world.
“I’ve met some characters along the way and overall just feel very lucky to have played a sport that I love and make a living in the process. I never had any specific targets in mind, it [reaching 110 caps] just kind of crept up on me. I recognise it as a big achievement but it’s just something that came hand-in-hand with playing the sport.
“Mossy (Chris Paterson) got over 100 and Sean (Lamont) is up over 100 as well. I never set out to get to get certain number or beat them. I just kept playing because I was enjoying it.”
Scottish Rugby player liaison, Ben Atiga, welcomed the appointment. He said: “Ross Ford’s transition into coaching is a good illustration of the Rugby For Life programme in action.
“We work with players throughout the various stages of their playing career to ensure they are developing skills and experience that will support their life choices after playing professionally.
“It’s also important that players are supported in their next steps, so I will continue to work with Ross in his new role.”
WATCH: Episode one of The Academy, the six-part RugbyPass documentary series looking at how Leicester Tigers develop their players
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