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19th Mar 2022

Stuart Hogg fires back at Scottish reporters in spiky post-match press conference

Patrick McCarry

Stuart Hogg

“We gave away a wee bit too many penalties.”

Stuart Hogg was still coming to terms with his side’s 26-5 defeat to Ireland at Aviva Stadium, this evening. The last thing he needed was a reminder of a chance he blew, or of that drinking session in Edinburgh, last Sunday.

The Scotland captain was one of six players that was disciplined by head coach Gregor Townsend after they went against team orders to go drinking after last weekend’s win over Italy. “The players know the guidelines,” Townsend insisted again, after today’s game.

While Finn Russell was dropped to the bench and Sione Tuipulotou was out of the squad, Hogg, Ali Price, Darcy Graham and Sam Johnson all started. Hogg had a decent game but, not for the first time, he made a call in going for a try when a pass to a teammate would have certainly led to a try.

The fullback showed great skill to get in a super position to score in the corner, but he opted against passing and was bundled over the touchline by Hugo Keenan.

Johnny Sexton lets Stuart Hogg know the score

Ireland captain Johnny sexton and teammate James Lowe both celebrated that Keenan tackle like it was a try itself. Sexton had no fear in running right up to the Scotland No.15 and letting him know all about it.

It was not the only time the pair – Lions teammates in 2017 – exchanged barbs in a game that Ireland won to claim a Triple Crown.

In the first half, as Sexton got treatment on the pitch, Hogg came over to get referee Wayne Barnes to keep the game ticking, and told the Ireland outhalf there wasn’t a loss on him. Later, as Hogg gave Sexton a piece of his mind, the Ireland captain fired back:

“Look at the scoreboard, look at the scoreboard!”

Asked by a Scottish journalist about that crucial moment in the game – a converted Scotland try would have made it just 14-12 to the hosts – Hogg was churlish with his reply.

“Yeah,” he began. “There was a lot of good stuff that happened in that game but, unfortunately – classic move – we’ve picked out the negatives to look at, and I’m disappointed by that.

“If I get down [and dive] on my belly, I probably score that. On another day, I probably do.

“And we’re looking at five seconds of an 80-minute performance. So, yeah, fair play.”

That was not the only testy moment of a press briefing that was dominated by Scottish reporters pitching searching questions to Hogg, and then Townsend.

On the six players that were disciplined, Hogg started off by trying to turn the matter into a positive. “For us, we put our hands up,” he said. “We knew we made a mistake… it was a challenging week, but it was one of our best week’s of preparation. The lads really stuck together.”

Pressed on breaching team discipline, as Scotland captain, Hogg was unimpressed that journalists were focusing on that, rather than positive aspects from his side’s 21-point defeat.

“What’s out there is out there,” he said, before adding, “I don’t know how many times I have to say I’ve apologised and put my hands up. I made a mistake… I can’t sit here and say I’m not disappointed… but I can’t go back and change anything. I’m not going to be developing [that story].

“I know exactly what you’re after here, and you’re not going to get it.”

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