Rugby: Lawson back after decade away from club

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AFTER an interval of a decade, Gregor Lawson returned to a Heriot’s starting line-up for league rugby last weekend and his presence at full-back coincided with the end of a seven-match losing streak by the Edinburgh club.

Boroughmuir were the victims and while Lawson may have been on his travels taking advantage of a business/accountancy degree and eventually setting up a company, rugby had never been neglected.

“During the ten years I was out of the Heriot’s side I continued to play with London Scottish, Bective Rangers in Dublin, Weybridge Vandals and even Swiss club, Cern.

“But Goldenacre would always have been my first choice and I was delighted to be back playing a part in helping Heriot’s finally get some reward for the hard work that has been going on behind the scenes.

“Hopefully, too, at the age of 33 I was able to contribute a bit of experience that is maybe lacking on the Premiership scene generally, I’ve noticed on returning.

“There are many outstanding youngsters and some new forces among the teams compared with ten years ago.

“But I don’t know where my generation have gone with some notable exceptions such as Malcolm Clapperton at Boroughmuir.

“Work permitting, I aim to continue trying to prove I can do a job starting at Dundee on Saturday when we end the first part of the Premiership keen to show the win over Boroughmuir was no flash in the pan.

“After some cup matches, we’ll then set about trying to retain a place in the top division in what promises to be a highly competitive B section featuring local derbies against Edinburgh Accies, Watsonians and an improving Stewart’s Melville.

“It has been a rough season so far and things just snuck up on Heriot’s.

“That was why there was real joy at the final whistle on Saturday.”

Lawson knew the feeling of relief better than most having retained memories of a survival battle involving a one-off meeting with Kelso at Prestonpans back in 1998.

That season, Heriot’s, the only Premiership One team never to have been relegated, finished second bottom and had to meet the Division Two runners-up to preserve their status.

Added Lawson: “I’ve known Heriot’s go through a previous bad patch, but the present team and coaches are full of potential and we maybe just needed a win to act as a springboard in also coming out of it.”

During his absence, Heriot’s have enjoyed two Scottish Cup triumphs, the first of which saw the team captained by younger brother Rory who has gone on to lead Scotland from scrum-half.

Gregor’s mark has been made in business as one third of the partnership which put together Morphsuits, a company specialising in party attire.

“I was back at my old school, Dollar Academy, this week and was asked whether I’d exchange a business life in which rugby has been mainly a hobby for Rory’s opportunities.

“I’m incredibly proud of what my brother has achieved with Scotland, Edinburgh and Gloucester, but I honestly didn’t know the answer.

“Yes, I’ve seen his highs, but I’ve also had a close up of the other side of the professional game – what it is like to be out injured for example.”

What Lawson does know is that rugby is in the blood with his father, Alan, a former Scotland scrum-half who is now vice-president of the Scottish Rugby Union, and his illustrious grandfather, the commentator Bill McLaren, and he is keen to keep going as long as possible.

“I still feel there are a few more days like the win over Boro to be enjoyed especially in this superbly-coached Heriot’s team,” he insisted.