Scotland’s most capped player and former British and Irish Lions hooker Ross Ford said he was lucky to have played the game he loves for so long as he announced his retirement from rugby.
The Edinburgh forward made 110 appearances for the Dark Blues as well as earning a Lions cap against South Africa in 2009.
The 35-year-old, who earned his final Scotland cap against Fiji two years ago to overtake Chris Paterson’s record, also racked up almost 300 professional club games for Border Reivers and Edinburgh.
The understated Borderer now plans to take up a coaching role in the Fosroc Scottish Rugby Academy.
Looking back on his career, he said: “I’ve been very fortunate. I’ve had a long career in the sport and have been able to represent my country at the highest level, playing in a lot of great places around the world.
“I’ve met some characters along the way and overall just feel very lucky to have played a sport that I love and make a living in the process.
“I never had any specific targets in mind, it (reaching 110 caps) just kind of crept up on me. I recognise it as a big achievement, but it’s just something that came hand-in-hand with playing the sport.
“Mossy (Paterson) got over 100 and Sean Lamont is up over 100 as well. I never set out to get to get certain number or beat them. I just kept playing because I was enjoying it.”
The Kelso-raised front-rower made his Scotland debut off the bench against Australia at Murrayfield in 2004, just two years after switching positions from the back row.
It was another two years before he was involved at international level again, but once he did reclaim his spot he was a virtual ever-present until age and injury finally caught up with him in 2017 as he was ousted from the team by the likes of Fraser Brown and Stuart McInally.
Ford is now set to return to the Borders to help bring on the next generation of players.
He said: “I always enjoyed the strength and conditioning side of things. It was always a big part of my game and it was something I was good at.
“Later in my career I took a big interest in it and it became something I wanted to do after I finished playing, so I was really keen when this opportunity came up, especially being a Borders lad as well.
“There’s a lot of talent here, so if I can help them develop and make this one part of their game world class then, hopefully, they’ll come through and go on to bigger and better things.
“I’m looking forward to getting in there and passing on some of the things I’ve learned and show a level of work ethic they can follow and stand them in good stead to be the best player they can be, setting the tone wherever they go.
“I’d like to think I’m in a good place to pass a lot of that on, so it’s quite an exciting time. It gives me something to go into with a lot of energy and will allow me to keep getting a buzz from the game.”