ROSS FORD, Scotland’s most capped male rugby player, has confirmed his decision to retire from playing the sport. He will remain involved in the game by taking up a role as a strength and conditioning coach with the Fosroc Scottish Rugby Academy.
It was announced in April that the 35-year-old would not be on the books at Edinburgh next season and Gregor Townsend has made it clear that the hooker is not on his radar for the World Cup later this year, but the Borderer has remained tight-lipped about his future plans, until now.
“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,” said Ford, who will be based in his native Scottish Borders as he transitions into life as an ex-rugby player. “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.
“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.”
Having made the switch from back-row to hooker as he moved into the senior game, Ford played his first professional match for the now defunct Borders during the 2003-4 season, and went on to play in 283 games for either the Borders, the Border Reivers or Edinburgh. He earned his first cap off the bench against Australia in November 2004 and made the last of his 110 Scotland appearances against Fiji on the 2017 summer tour, and played as a replacement in the final Test of the British & Irish Lions tour to South Africa in 2009.
“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,” he added.
“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.”