Scottish Rugby
Townsend leads tributes to Paterson
ESPNscrum Staff
December 21, 2011
Scotland fullback Chris Paterson poses at his peg in the team changing room, Murrayfield, Edinburgh, Scotland, March 9, 2011
Chris Paterson lined up at fly-half, fullback and on the wing for Scotland © PA Photos

Scotland attack coach Gregor Townsend has paid tribute to Chris Paterson following the veteran's retirement from international rugby.

The 33-year-old called time on his Scotland career on Wednesday, bringing an end to a 12-year period where he collected 109 caps for the national side. And Townsend - Scotland's second most-capped back - led the tributes to the goal-kicker.

"When I think of Chris, the words professionalism, competitor and humility are closely linked to how he has conducted himself over his illustrious career. I'd also add inspirational - as I can only imagine the many thousands of kids that have taken up the game in Scotland thanks to his exploits on the field and his exemplary demeanour off the field," Townsend said. "The way he has dedicated himself to self-improvement has also inspired many of his teammates to raise their standards and ask themselves if they have done enough to reach their potential.

"He has always been one of the first out on the field at training full of positivity and enthusiasm, and definitely the last to leave the training field. This dedication in conjunction with a wonderful ability to focus his mind on the process transformed his goal-kicking. It is apt that two of the best goal-kickers in world rugby have announced their retirements from international rugby so close together."

Former Edinburgh coach Rob Moffat, who was also Paterson's coach from his school days at Galashiels Academy, added: "Chris is the model professional with the sort of family support that means he would always have his feet on the ground. He never wants to be second, a real competitor. For me, the biggest accolade I could give Chris over the last few years is his relentless determination to improve his game.

"At times over the last two to three years he has played the best rugby of his career. He's worked very, very hard and young people have to realise that, if it ever was the case, the days you could rely on natural ability alone, have long since gone."

Scotland's current kicking coach Duncan Hodge, who was a team-mate alongside Paterson back in the 1999 World Cup, also paid tribute saying: "I first remember Mossy [Paterson] playing sevens at Melrose and it was obvious even then what a great footballer he was. I can't remember there being any fuss or concern about Mossy when he won his first cap.

"Nobody was saying 'we'll have to look after him'. There was just an appreciation that he would go out and do his job."

Mike Blair, Paterson's colleague with both Edinburgh and Scotland, said: "I regard myself as being very fortunate to have played the vast majority of my professional rugby career with Mossy for Edinburgh and Scotland.

"He is an incredibly competitive guy who still tops most fitness tests and I think it's great that he has been able to retire right at the top of the game and on his own terms as there is no doubt he could still play international rugby for a couple more years.

"I've enjoyed playing my rugby with Mossy because underneath all the dedication and training he plays the game with a smile on his face."

And current Edinburgh head coach Michael Bradley has hopes Paterson's career will serve as an example to aspiring Scotland internationals. "Chris Paterson is, and always has been, an exceptional athlete and a true servant of Scottish rugby," Bradley said. "He has inspired thousands of youngsters to play rugby in Scotland with his outstanding on-field talent and off-field attitude.

"He is a model professional, whose dedication and commitment to the sport has kept him in peak physical and mental condition, allowing him to sustain a long and illustrious international career.

"Although Chris [Paterson] has called time on his international career, he will continue to contribute an incredible amount to Edinburgh Rugby, on and off the field, as an extremely valued player and as an exemplary professional example to the many talented youngsters at the club whose ambitions are to emulate his incredible achievements, in the Black and Red of Edinburgh Rugby and the navy blue of Scotland."

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