Interview with Rory Lawson

January 27, 2016

Name: Rory Lawson

Position: Scrum Half

Clubs: Edinburgh, Gloucester, and Newcastle

National: Scotland (31 Caps)

- Former Scotland Captain
- Played in 2 World Cups (2007 & 2011) 

So, you retired from rugby in August 2013, due to a wrist injury. How did you find the transition – going from playing rugby every day to having to adapt to a different way of life? 

The transition was a tough one but it’s something everyone in pro sport has to go through. However it's also a moment that's alomost impossible to prepare for. It was extremely difficult to endure a forced retirement due to injury but like everything, it gets easier with time. 

I was lucky enough to be involved in a couple of businesses whilst I was playing and so they acted as great building blocks once I had retired. I also completed a full stint at Edinburgh University before I went pro so I had a platform of education underneath me which was a good safety net - not many players these days go to uni however it's great to see teams now trying to help out young guys breaking through into rugby, by assisting them in getting work experience etc. Saying that, it’s very difficult and exhansuting, balancing educational opportunities and training. 

What are you up to now? Are you still involved in rugby?

My main connections to the game is through Sky Sports punditry and the business I’m involved in, Coco Pro.

I love the media side of things, as it’s a great way to maintain a connection with rugby. It’s fantastic to watch the matches in one of the best seats in the house and (hopefully) provide the TV audience with an insight into some things they may not necessarily pick up on. Although i'm now retired, my passion for rugby is still as strong as when I first started playing and so I want to be involved with the sport for as long as I can!

You had an impressive rugby career that included playing for Edinburgh, Gloucester, Newcastle and your country. What’s your career highlights?

Fulfilling my childhood dream of playing for my country was phenomenal, and to be given the honour of captaining Scotland was extra special. My two on-field highlights have to be captaining Scotland at the 2011 World Cup and in the victory over South Africa.

Yet, rugby’s about a lot more than simply the 80 minutes you play on the pitch each week! I loved many of the off-field moments too, such as celebrating victories with your team mates or the hilarious moments in training!

Rewinding back to the start of your career – what was your first club and what are your earliest grassroots memories?

I was born into a passionate rugby family and first got involved in the sport as my older brother played. My parents encouraged me to play all sports but there was never any pressure from them, just encouragement. I felt that playing as many sports as possible helped me in the long run, as there is often a cross-over of skills between multiple sports.

in terms of my first teams, I played for my school, Dollar Academy as well as playing mini rugby with Stirling County. It was great because all I remember is it being immensely fun – I feel that youth coaches should make sure that it’s all about the young guys enjoying themselves and that the competitive nature should come directly from the kids! I know that I continued to play the game through the age groups because I always enjoyed it!

The Rugby World Cup has no doubt produced a legacy throughout the UK – Do you see rugby’s grassroots as the main driving force of this legacy?

The Southern Hemisphere sides were the most impressive at the World Cup – that is a given – and so I feel it’s time that we took stock and looked to try and learn from the methods of coaching and training that those teams instil. Especially in the way they coach their kids.

A prime example is Australia – Rugby Union is by no means the biggest sport in their country, yet they made another RWC final and excited the world with their rugby.

I feel it’s imperative that rugby clubs throughout the UK create something that encourages players to keep coming back. Whether that’s just making sessions fun at the younger age groups, or running effective and educational training sessions that players' feel they have thoroughly benefitted from.

Another aspect I feel that should be brought into the equation when trying to market rugby is to place emphasis on the special values of rugby - something that Bill MclLaren talked about a lot. He often talked of the the way rugby taught people to play with respect and like a man. I feel this should be promoted further – there’s much more to learn from the game than simply how to spin pass, such as discipline, respect and teamwork. A great example of this was the Sky programme, 'School of hard knocks!'

Finally, with the upcoming 6 Nations, we have to ask, who do you fancy for the win?

This tournament is very much like a voyage into the great unknown!

Factors such as the French and English having new coaches, the Irish teams struggling domestically and the fact that It's been a World Cup year, which will mean it will be difficult for teams to peak again, all make the tournament a mouth-watering prospect. 

Most of the guys involved won't have known a pre-season like the one they endured in the summer. That, followed by a gruelling world cup campaign and then a swift transition back into domestic rugby, creates huge demands on the body! Squad depth will likely be important at this tournament.

From a Scottish perspective I would have been more confident 1 month ago, however there’s no doubt the boys will be extremely up for their first match against England. A win there could really give them some momentum. 

Thanks to Rory for taking the time to chat with E4R! We wish him all the best!

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