Once A Warrior 2020 part 1: Jacko

Ruaridh Jackson

Warrior number – 156

Appearances – 163
Tries – 16
Points – 499

Debut – GRAN Parma at Hughenden, 27th October 2006
Last game – Leinster at the RDS, 28th February 2020

Ruaridh James Howard Jackson’s career cleaved closely to the “five stages of the actor” made famous by Ricardo Montalban (ask your parents):

  • “Who is Ruaridh Jackson?” The young gun breaking through
  • “Get me Ruaridh Jackson.” A key part of a playoff contending squad.
  • “Get me a Ruaridh Jackson type.” On sabbatical with Harlequins and Wasps.
  • “Get me a young Ruaridh Jackson.” No need – back at Glasgow and still got it.
  • “Who is Ruaridh Jackson?” Retirement beckons…

Ruaridh’s appearances for the club spanned more than 13 years (only Dougie Hall has had a longer gap between his first and last games for Glasgow – nearly 16 years). As things stand, he is seventh all-time in appearances for the Warriors – third among backs. His haul of 499 points is fifth among the 310 players who have played for Glasgow in the pro era. (Incidentally that 499 points is really agitating. It feels like the club should just run Jacko out to kick a conversion in one of the season-ending games against Edinburgh…)

As a teenage debutant, Ruaridh was one of a small group, including Moray Low and Richie Vernon, who blazed a trail for young talent at a time when head coach Sean Lineen was tending to be somewhat circumspect in blooding such raw players. This was the ground floor of the Warriors’ project and goal number one was quite simply to make the side tough to beat and a much more unpleasant prospect to play against.

With Dan Parks and others on the books the battle for game time was a tough one. While he made his first Glasgow appearance off the subs bench in 2006 against GRAN Parma it was another two years before Jacko would make his first start for the club. What a start it was though. Thom Evans’ hat-trick may have caught the eye for the Man of the Match award but 20 year old Jacko was almost certainly the best player on the pitch. At the heart of most of what Glasgow created, his late interception so very nearly snatched what would have been a remarkable victory for the Warriors.

Entering the first peak of his Glasgow career and starting the 2010/11 campaign in the number 10 shirt he inherited from the departed Dan Parks, Ruaridh was soon also filling the stand off role for Scotland on a regular basis. Across that and the following three seasons he was one of the most consistent presences in Glasgow’s matchday squads under both Sean Lineen and Gregor Townsend. He was a creator, notching 8 try assists during the club’s run to the final in 2013/14 as he featured in 20 out of the last 21 games before departing for pastures new following a loss to Leinster in the PRO12 Grand Final.

Phase 3 of the Jackson Cinematic Universe saw a slightly more grizzled veteran back at the Warriors around the same time as fellow departee Niko Matawalu – and followed later in the season by fellow gin-lover Ryan Grant as well as the club’s record try scorer DTH van der Merwe for second spells. This more mature, worldly-wise version of Jacko (think Captain America, Civil War era rather than the First Avenger version) returned almost exclusively as a full back, barring the odd few minutes at stand off late on in games.

With Stuart Hogg largely absent, RJ had possibly his finest season at the club, starting 20 of the first 23 games in the number 15 jersey. He was a steadying influence in Dave Rennie’s first campaign in charge. There was still the eye for a gap though (he made more clean breaks than anyone bar George Horne); the lovely bits of skill that not just anybody can produce (a beautiful chip, dribble through and regather for a try against the Cheetahs at Scotstoun); as well as the ability to just read the game so well (the interception leading to a lung-bursting run at altitude away against the Cheetahs).

The latter years did bring some darkness though as Ruaridh’s vicious streak began to assert itself. At least the man himself was able to admit he had a problem…

So to a future outside of rugby, after a career that has seen him play over 230 times for clubs and country, notching 16 tries and nearly 700 points. It’s time to call a halt (before the bad side really takes over). Ruaridh will continue his business adventures with the Garden Shed Drinks Company. Hopefully his continued proximity to the city will allow for a suitable send off at Scotstoun for a man who has seen so much change at Glasgow during the time when he himself has transformed from a fresh-faced understudy to a full on beardo guiding the latest generation of Warriors’ youngsters taking their own first steps in the game. His influence around the club will still be felt for a long time to come.

Retiring from rugby

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