Philosophical to the end, Rory Lawson is refusing to be bitter about the wrist injury which has ended his rugby career.
Newcastle Falcons’ Scottish international scrum-half yesterday broke the news that May’s victorious RFU Championship final was his last game as a professional, despite still having a year left to run on his Kingston Park contract.
The 32-year-old, an LV= Cup winner with Gloucester who played 31 times for his country, made the announcement to his Newcastle team-mates before going public on his decision less than an hour later.
As he unpacked the contents of his Kingston Park locker into the back seat of his car, a queue of players lined up to shake the hand and pat the back of the man nicknamed ‘Gun’ for his searing pass.
Despite playing only a single season for the Premiership new-boys, the former Edinburgh man had established himself as a popular and regular member of the Falcons’ squad during their victorious Championship campaign.
Son of Scottish international Alan Lawson, and grandson of legendary BBC commentator Bill McLaren, the Borderer was not stricken by bitterness. Instead, he was thankful for a career lasting in excess of a decade, including six seasons towards the top end of the English game during his spell at Gloucester.
“In many ways I feel really lucky to have done something I love so much for this length of time,” he said.
“I am obviously gutted to no longer be able to play, but the guidance I’ve received from Doug Campbell, a consultant hand and wrist surgeon with Spire Healthcare in Leeds, is that I need to bow out now.
“I have been fortunate enough to achieve a number of things I wanted to in my career, and I will always look back on representing my country with huge pride. I am also very grateful to the support I have had from my family, friends, coaches, team-mates and support staff over the years.”
Falcons director of rugby Dean Richards’ comments outlined the regard in which Lawson is held at Kingston Park, the former England and Lions No 8 stating: “Rory has been a magnificent servant to the game, and he will be sorely missed.
“He is a quality player whose enthusiasm, wealth of knowledge and experience has really rubbed off on our players ever since he arrived at the club.
“I thank him for his commitment last season in helping us achieve our main objective of Premiership rugby, and I think I speak on behalf of everyone at the club in wishing him all the very best for the future.”
Even in Lawson’s absence Newcastle’s scrum-half stable seems suitably well stocked, with countryman Mike Blair having been added to a roster already including Chris Pilgrim, Warren Fury and ex-Blaydon man Andy Davies.
Blair said: “The first time I played against Rory was at school – Edinburgh Academy v Dollar Academy – and I was told that my opposite number was the Scotland under-12 scrum-half. There wasn’t a Scotland under-12 team, but I suppose that was as good an indication as any of the esteem in which Rory was held.
“Since then we’ve followed similar career paths with Edinburgh and Scotland. I have always admired Rory’s work ethic, and the impressive skills-set that he brought to every game. I wish him all the best in his retirement.”
The Falcons are next in action on Friday when they travel to Bath for the finals of the JP Morgan Premiership 7s, the competition they won in 2011 but were not able to defend due to their relegation from the top flight.
They meet Gloucester and Saracens in the group stages, with the two pool winners meeting in the final. The eventual victor, as well as securing the first silverware of the season, will also be entered into the inaugural World Club 7s at Twickenham next weekend.