Ross Rennie’s international rugby contemporaries were queueing today to pay tribute to a player who has been forced to retire with a neck injury, aged just 28.
Fellow Scotland back-rowers John Barclay and Kelly Brown led the praise.
Barclay said: “Genuinely one of the most talented players I had the pleasure of playing with and against.”
Brown noted: “A ridiculous, natural rugby talent. Lovely guy too.”
Scrum-half Mike Blair, who, like Rennie, learned the game at Edinburgh Academy, said: “What a shame Ross Rennie is forced to retire – one of the best I’ve played with.”
The Evening News revealed on December 4 that Rennie was suffering from what was described as a “neural issue” and that Bristol, the club he joined after leaving Edinburgh last season, were sending him to a consultant. Having since been forced to give up the right to add to his 20 Scotland caps, Rennie said: “I am absolutely gutted – it’s very strange for me right now.
“I think I need a little more time for it to sink in, but you can never plan these things. When you are playing, you never know when your last game is going to be.
“I’ve had a bit of time to reflect in the last couple of weeks, and, while I’m sad, I’m also pleased that I’ve been able to do what I have in my career.
“I’ve been involved in some fantastic occasions for my country. I’m also really pleased I chose to come down to Bristol.”
Rennie made his Scotland debut as a replacement against Ireland at Croke Park in 2008 under former national coach Frank Hadden.
However, serious knee damage halted his progress and a trip to a specialist clinic in Vermont was required to get him back on track.
A further knee injury followed but Rennie was able to make nine consecutive Scotland appearances in 2012, earning a man-of-the-match award against France in Paris before his final cap call came when he left the field with shoulder damage against New Zealand at Murrayfield.