Tributes have been paid from all over Scottish rugby following the retirement of Edinburgh fans’ favourite back-row stalwart Roddy Grant at just 28.
Roddy’s retirement, due to a long-standing knee injury, was confirmed on Boxing Day, just 24 hours before John Hardie produced a man-of-the-match performance against Glasgow in the number seven shirt Grant had made his own.
The 28-year-old, born in Botswana to Scottish parents, was given the honour of carrying the match ball to the BT Murrayfield pitch, gracing the hallowed turf one final time before seeing out the rest of the game as a water carrier.
More than 23,000 people rose to acclaim the tenacious openside, hailed for his professionalism and tough-tackling in the capital club’s back-row.
On the crucial injury, Grant explained: “I had surgery at the end of last season and even though I came back and played a few games this season, my knee just couldn’t recover and is now in a point that my day-to-day is severely affected.”
He made five appearances for the club this season, was captain in each and won each of those games, holding the fort until the Rugby World Cup contingent returned – a contingent that many felt him unlucky not to be a part of.
And that he was able to lace his boots for those five games speaks volumes about Roddy – always willing and more than able. For a spell he was a deputy to Ross Rennie, before Rennie too was forced into early retirement, from which point Grant took back the number seven shirt with aplomb.
For six years, the flame-haired openside was a mainstay of the Edinburgh pack – through coaches Moffat, Robinson, Bradley – and made 138 appearances in the black and red, with 112 starts.
He captained the club on a number of occasions, something he admits he was “hugely honoured to do.”
Roddy’s career was spent plying his trade at the national stadium, and he can count himself mightily unlucky not to have won at least one cap for Scotland – although he has represented both the Scotland A side and the 7s with distinction.
One of his finest hours, though, came in Glasgow, when he was part of Team Scotland for the Commonwealth Games squad that took Ibrox by storm over two days in summer 2014. Roddy added: “Playing for the thistle has always been such an emotional thing for me, and it’s so special that the last time I did it was at Ibrox at the Commonwealth Games.
“From the bottom of my heart, I thank everyone that has supported me throughout my career.”
While there are undoubtedly regrets over never winning a senior Test cap, the 28-year-old can hang his boots up having had an extremely satisfying career, and will rightly be remembered alongside the likes of Chris Paterson, Mike Blair and Todd Blackadder as an Edinburgh Rugby legend.