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My Life in Rugby: Carl Hogg – former Scotland and Melrose back-row

 Carl HoggScotland had won the Grand Slam in 1990 and the side that travelled to Australia for the Test series in 1992 was very much that core group: Gavin and Scott Hastings, Craig Chalmers, Sean Lineen. I was the wild card.

I was the long-term project, out of 32 there were one or two young lads given the chance and I was fortunate enough to be one.

I played both Tests, it was fantastic. Australia had won the World Cup in 1991 and their side was filled with household names – I was asked to man-mark Willie Ofahengaue as a 22-year-old in the first Test.

It was a great occasion, I started at No.6 and my best mate in rugby, Doddie Weir, started at No.5.It was surreal standing next to him singing the national anthem in front of 40,000 in the Sydney Football Stadium, as young lads it felt like a dream.

It comes and goes so quickly, though, you’re almost in a bubble and I look back now and those six weeks went by in the blink of an eye.

David Campese got a couple of tries in the first game which Australia won 27-12, the second was in Brisbane, at the Ballymore Stadium, and we lost 37-13, but I’ll never forget it.

I ended up with just five Scotland caps, but not through lack of effort. I had issues with my shoulder throughout my career that kept me out for large periods. In all I think I missed five or six full seasons.

I was never able to build any momentum, and that’s the biggest frustration of all, as a 25-year-old you’re desperate to play and at that time, as an amateur, I was having to go to work as a civil engineer and try to build my recovery.

I initially got the injury in a 1991 game for Melrose. The big one, a dislocation, came in the first game of the 1994/5 season and I was out for two years.

At Melrose, under the guidance of my uncle Jim Telfer we had great success. We won the Scottish First Division pretty much every year in the early Nineties but I was envious of some of my teammates because I wasn’t able to play a full part.

We had a great system and the likes of Doddie Weir, Craig Chalmers and Bryan Redpath were all there.

I was there through the age-ranges until it turned into the Edinburgh professional outfit. My overriding memory was sitting in the dressing room after each season knowing we were Scotland’s best club side.

I retired at 33 having played for my local club side, for Scotland and visited various places – rugby was my passport.

I played for Warringah for four months in Australia in 1994, just before my injury, and that was brilliant, and I ended my career with two seasons in the Premiership with Leeds under Phil Davies.

That urge to coach, though, was always there, and it probably goes back to uncle Jim. I worked in the Leeds academy with Stuart Lancaster and moved down to London Welsh for a year because my wife, Jill Douglas, was working down there.

I’ve been saddled with Jill since I was about 18 but I’m ever so proud of what she’s achieved because, when she started out, sports broadcasting was very much a male-dominated environment.

We’re building something special at Gloucester under Nigel Davies, but to sit and say you’re the best side in the land is special and I’m glad I can say I did that with Melrose.

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