Andy Nicol Interview: Former Scotland skipper salutes “phenomenal” Stuart Hogg ahead of milestone moment

Stuart Hogg has been named in Scotland's starting XV for clash against Ireland
©Scottish Rugby/SNS

Stuart Hogg is on the cusp of becoming only the fourth male player to reach 100 caps for Scotland this Sunday in the mouth-watering Guinness Six Nations clash with Ireland.

Since he made his debut off the bench as a 19-year-old in Cardiff against Wales 11 years ago, the Exeter Chiefs’ full-back has been a mainstay of the Scotland set-up.

He has played in two Rugby World Cups to date, captained the team between 2019 and 2022, is his country’s top male try scorer and has been on three British & Irish Lions tours.

Against Wales in round two of the Six Nations, he reached 100 Test caps (including two for the Lions), but now he will reach three figures for his country at BT Murrayfield in round four against the world’s number one team.

He will be following in the footsteps of Ross Ford (110), Chris Paterson (109) and Sean Lamont (105) while Donna Kennedy amassed an amazing 115 appearances for Scotland Women in her playing days.

"To get to 100 caps is just phenomenal and Stuart Hogg has been brilliant for Scotland over the years,” Andy Nicol, the former Scotland skipper who is hosting a Wooden Spoon charity lunch in Edinburgh this weekend, told TRU.

“He has been an amazing player for a long period of time. He is a great character and he has responded in recent times to having had the captaincy taken away from him. The way he has dealt with that has shown real character and, in general, I think the captaincy spell was really good for him and he has matured.

“Now he can just go out there and enjoy what will be a very special moment for him and his family on Sunday.

“We are all proud of him for getting to 100 caps and I know everyone in his home town of Hawick will be very proud too. In this era of the game, there are more Test matches, but there are a lot of injuries and ups and downs too and he has managed to navigate those and get to this point.

“Well done to him. It has been a pleasure watching him over the years.”

“There are no weak points”: Ireland looking strong ahead of match

This Scotland-Ireland match has been built up for the last two weeks, so how can the hosts cause Ireland problems and potentially win a Triple Crown and keep themselves in the title race?

“It will be a huge test against the best team in the world and Scotland will have to step up from where they have been in the first three rounds,” Nicol, who turns 52 on Sunday, said.

“Ireland might have been slightly off against Italy but in the first two games they played in the competition, they were really ‘on it’ and there are no weak points in their squad.

“To stop Ireland you have to make good defensive reads. Their attack is so layered and has so many options that you just have to hope as an opposing team that your defensive reads are right and are slightly better than their attack.

“It is a massive challenge for Scotland when it comes to phase play while it is a big test for the midfield defenders, too.

“Physically we have struggled against Ireland in recent years, but we matched France in that area in the last game and that was a big bonus. If the Scotland team can do that again against Ireland and make sure that they are not losing the gain line battle, then they have a chance.

“There is going to be a great atmosphere. It’ll be a brilliant occasion and I cannot wait.”

“It is just another example of the connections that Doddie gave us”: Getting ready for the Doddie88 Challenge

 Once the dust settles on the Ireland match on Sunday evening, Nicol and many of his former Scottish Schools teammates will be turning their attention to fundraising.

Thirty-five years on from touring New Zealand together in 1988, they will take on the Doddie88 Challenge to raise funds for the My Name’5 Doddie Foundation.

The challenge will see Doddie Weir’s former teammates from that trip take on an 88km adventure over two days in the hope of raising £88,000 towards research into motor neurone disease.

Next Thursday, March 16, a group of 22 former players - plus the original coaching staff - will set off on a 65km cycle from the Carter Bar, on the border between Scotland and England, and head to Melrose.

The following day the group will walk 23km from Carlops in the Pentland Hills to Doddie’s statue at Murrayfield later that afternoon.

They will spend the evening reminiscing about great tour stories and thinking about Weir - and squad member Gary Sisman who sadly passed away in 1992 - before taking the walk to Murrayfield the next day for the Six Nations game against Italy.

“It is going to be brilliant and it is just another example of the connections that Doddie gave us,” Nicol stated.

“We had a 30 year reunion of this Scottish Schools squad in 2018 and Doddie’s sad passing led to us all reconnecting again to come together for this challenge.

“It was a life-changing trip for us. We were all in our late teens at the time and we got the chance to spend five weeks in the rugby-mad country of New Zealand with our mates.

“It doesn’t get much better than that and we played eight games and were staying with local families for part of it. One of the games was a Test against New Zealand Schools and the whole trip was a real test of our rugby skills while it was an excellent life experience too.

“It’ll be great to see everyone next week, raise some important funds and also raise a glass to Doddie and Gary while remembering an amazing tour and two great guys.”

Get behind Andy Nicol and the Doddie88 Challenge gang here at