It was with some sadness that big Jim Hamilton announced his retirement from international rugby, after being left out of Vern Cotter’s 31 man world cup squad.
At 32, he still has a bit of rugby left in him yet, but he decided that this will be played out at club level only. The Scotland team management had encouraged him to keep himself available should they need to draft someone in to the squad to cover an injury, but the Saracens lock stuck to his guns, and called it a day.
Hamilton was brought up in a 2 bedroom flat on a rough estate in Coventry and it was England that he first represented at under 19 and under 21 level. However he qualified to play for Scotland through his Glasgow born father.
As a 23 year old, he made his debut as a replacement for Scotland against Romania in 2006, becoming the 1000th capped player. He made an immediate impact and went on to play in all the 6 Nations games later that season.
He travelled to the 2007 and 2011 world cups and became only the third Scot to win 50 caps at lock forward, the other two being Scott Murray and Stuart Grimes. His one international try came against Argentina in Scotland’s 13-9 win in Mar del Plata in 2010.
Over 9 years, he went on to gain 63 caps for his country, with his final game being against Italy in the narrow victory in Torino last month.
At club level, Hamilton’s big break came when he joined Leicester Tigers’ Academy in 1999 and broke into the first team in 2003. He went on to enjoy time at Edinburgh Rugby in 2008, Gloucester in 2010 where he was club captain in the 2012/13 season, Montpellier and Saracens. Last season, Hamilton was part of the Saracens Premiership winning squad.
Big Jim often split opinion among Scottish rugby supporters. Many felt that he was guilty of giving away too many penalties and that he didn’t have the dynamic impact of some other modern day lock forwards. However, he had a loyal band of followers who appreciated his ability to disrupt the game and get under the skin of the opposition. He was the kind of guy who never took a backward step.
He will be remembered as an incredibly tough and uncompromising player who gave teams a physical presence, particularly in the scrum and maul. At 6ft 8” and over 19 stone he was an imposing figure. With socks around his ankles and tattoos on display he always looked ready for a scrap with whoever dared cross him.
He signed off by saying,
“Scottish rugby has not only given me an opportunity to play rugby at the highest level but has given me a platform to be a better man. I wish everyone involved with Scottish rugby all the best and I know consistent success is around the corner #63andout”.