Stuart Hogg has described what it was like living with the ridicule of butchering a try-scoring chance for Scotland against Ireland last February in the Guinness Six Nations. All the full-back had to do to score was touch the ball down safely but he fumbled it with no one near him while grounding it with one hand.
The Scots went on to lose what was their first match following their World Cup pool exit the previous October at the hands of Japan, and it took the release of a try for Exeter against Gloucester to finally allow Hogg let go of his demons following his 2019/20 season club switch from Glasgow to the Premiership.
Featuring in an extensive interview with The XV, the new high-quality rugby content website, Scotland talisman Hogg explained: “The first wee while before lockdown I felt I was almost too stressed about playing because I felt I had to justify myself being signed down here and almost tried too hard. I made a few mistakes.
“I went back up to Scotland after the first little block with Exeter, made a couple of big mistakes in the Six Nations – that I’m reminded of on a daily basis – but the turning point was that Gloucester game. I scored that try and I said to myself, ‘That’s me, that’s what I’ve been put on a rugby pitch to do’. I said to my wife, ‘I’m going to score another try like that very, very soon’. And I scored against Italy the week after.
“Let’s not be stressed about rugby, let’s enjoy it a little bit more because I am in the second half of my career. I don’t want to concentrate on mistakes – they will happen and it’s your ability to bounce back and learn from them and do your next job. That’s the biggest thing I’ve learned at Exeter – not to chase perfection because perfection doesn’t exist.”
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That said, there were chuckles at his expense at Exeter about his Scotland mishap. “Yeah, but that’s the people I care about, it’s banter. You don’t get banter when you’re reading it online. I care about people’s opinions who are close to me, within the four walls of the changing room and my family and friends. Anybody else, I couldn’t give a monkey’s arse about.
“Mistakes will happen. I know fine and well I f**ked up – I don’t need somebody to tell me, because I am the first person to rip somebody, but then I know there’s a time and a place. I know I made mistakes; I just get on with it.”
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