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The Scottish rugby hero, the ‘world’s sexiest jockey’ and a VERY public fall from grace


It is less than a year since rugby star Stuart Hogg revelled in one of the proudest moments in a glittering international career. With two of his children in tow, a third in his arms, he strode onto the pitch at Murrayfield to a thunderous ovation to mark his 100th cap for Scotland.

And what a fixture it promised to be. Scotland, still in with a shout of winning the 2023 Six Nations trophy, were about to face Ireland, the number one team in the world.

Touchingly, the match ball was delivered onto the pitch by Hogg’s son Archie. How ­fitting – or so it appeared – for one of the quintessential family men of Scottish sport.

Hogg’s wife Gillian and their brood were regular fixtures at his matches and he talked about them regularly in interviews. It was they he paid tribute to a fortnight after this match when he announced – aged only 30 – that he was quitting the game.

There was other momentous news in his family Hogg would have discovered around this time. His wife was pregnant again. Baby number four was due in November.

Stuart Hogg was pictured with Leonna Mayor less than a week after his wife had given birth to their fourth child

Stuart Hogg was pictured with Leonna Mayor less than a week after his wife had given birth to their fourth child

Little could any of the fans saluting the rugby legend back in March have imagined where Hogg would be in his life by the time new daughter Phoebe Ann was born.

he first clue, six days after the birth, came on the Instagram profile of a retired jockey, Leonna Mayor, 32, who was sharing selfies with her 31,000 followers of her stay at a spa retreat in Staffordshire.

There in a bathrobe beside her, grinning from ear to ear, was Hogg. ‘The least Mondayest Monday ever’ read the caption, which was accompanied by a ‘loved up’ emoji.

His baby was less than a week old. And ‘family man’ Hogg was not only absent but kicking back with a glamorous lady friend.

The following month, both Hogg and the new woman in his life were posting pictures from Dubai, where they were holidaying together – although they avoided appearing in the same shot.

Their circumspection lasted only a few weeks. At Christmas, she posted a picture of the pair posing next to their tree.

In January, Hogg shared pictures of them together at Musselburgh Races. In February, on the day Scotland played Wales in their Six Nations opener in Cardiff, he posted a picture of Mayor with the caption: ‘This little ­beauty’s first rugby game. Great result for the ­Scotland Team lads.’

His marriage, it seemed, was over. And while his estranged wife tended to their newborn, he and his new love were ‘flaunting’ their romance on social media.

That , certainly, was how friends of the mother of four saw the situation. She is said to be ‘devastated’ by how quickly he has gone ­public with his relationship with Mayor, who is now a TV horseracing presenter.

The torment of the newborn’s mother is perhaps exacerbated by the couple’s seemingly deliberate decision to parade their new circumstances to their Instagram followers.

The platform looms large in both their lives. Mayor, who was dubbed ‘the world’s sexiest jockey’ when she posed in her underwear for Zoo magazine in 2013, fills her profile with endless selfies showing her in bikinis in exotic foreign climes.

An increasingly image-conscious Hogg – now launching a TV career of his own – appears similarly in thrall to Instagram, even as criticism abounds over his crassness in chronicling his new romance there.

The bewildering speed with which his life has changed course was underlined by the release last month of the Netflix series Six Nations: Full Contact. Hogg features heavily in episode seven. It tells the story of that crunch Scotland vs Ireland fixture last March which proved to be his 100th and last international appearance.

We see a sportsman confronting the mortality of his career. ‘I’m only 30 but my body isn’t 30,’ he admits. ‘I wish it was. I wish it was younger and less broken.’ Nevertheless, he is in Gregor Townsend’s starting 15 to face Ireland and is clearly moved by the coach’s tribute to ‘Hoggy’ as ‘one of the best Scotland players in our history’.

Interviewed for the programme, Hogg declares that all he ever wanted in his 12-year rugby career was to ‘make my family proud’. And yet, by the time the series was released just a few months later, Hogg’s life had been turned on its head. His playing days were over by the summer – and so, in short order, was his marriage.

An ankle injury had forced Hogg off the field in the second half of that Ireland match, which ­Scotland went on to lose, and it ­sidelined him for the rest of the ­tournament. He had hoped to play in the Rugby World Cup in France later that year but, by the summer, he realised this swansong was unrealistic.

He hung up his boots for his club, Exeter Chiefs, and his country with immediate effect in July. ‘I’ve made this call because I want what’s best for me and for my ­family,’ he said at the time.

‘And I believe I have made the right decision.’

Stuart Hogg in action for Scotland in last year's Six Nations match against Ireland at Murrayfield

Stuart Hogg in action for Scotland in last year’s Six Nations match against Ireland at Murrayfield

Interviews he gave around that time revealed a man in turmoil. In one, he spoke about ‘abuse’ he had received on social media about his proneness to injuries. When he stopped followers messaging him on these platforms, he said some started messaging his wife instead.

‘People think because we’re sportsmen we’ve got everything that we want and life’s a piece of p*** and we’ve got the dream job or whatever.

‘They completely forget that we’re judged on 80 minutes of our week. Whereas the rest of the week we’re a normal human being that has to be a husband, to be a dad.’

He said latterly – after having dental veneers fitted and trying new hairstyles, including a ‘manbun’ – the abuse was about his appearance.

‘I’d put a photo up of Gill and I being at a wedding and I’d get abuse about my hair or my teeth – or like, it’s like a Colgate advert because Gill’s got nice teeth as well.

‘I’m like, you know what, “F*** you”. I’ve had enough of this.’

Hogg, who captained the international team for three years until 2022, admitted the social media criticism had formed part of his decision to retire.

In another interview he admitted being ‘emotionally and physically drained with the game’ and wanted to be with his family instead.

He told the TNT Sports channel, for which he now works: ‘I sit out here [in his garden], day after day, just thinking to myself, speaking to loads of different people. The amount of times I’ve broken down in tears because I thought, “I have to keep going, have to keep going”, and the realisation that I couldn’t.

‘I got to the stage in my rugby career that I was missing my kids growing up.’ He added: ‘When my son, who is seven, turns up to me, and I come home from training, and he’s like, “Dad, do you want to go outside and play football?” And I’m like, “Mate, I can’t. I genuinely can’t, like I’m absolutely beat”.

‘His little face, and he’s out in the rain… I sit there and I watch him, and he’s on his own, and I’m like, “This is absolutely breaking me”. I want to be there for my kids.’

Now he and they no longer live under the same roof.

And bizarrely, given his intolerance of criticism on social media, it is there that he chooses to advertise his new romantic arrangements.

Though his wife has not ­spoken publicly, friends say she has been ‘completely blindsided by this’.

One said: ‘She’s broken into a million pieces. Having their fourth child was supposed to be a happy time for them as a family, but instead her life has been torn apart.’

It is understood the split came shortly after the couple relocated to Hogg’s hometown of Hawick in Roxburghshire following their spell in the Exeter area, where he had been playing his club rugby.

At first, he was believed to have stayed in the family home while his wife and children moved out. Now they are back and he, it seems, has moved out.

News of the new romance brought almost immediate repercussions in Hawick. Hogg had been due to co-host the local rugby club’s anniversary dinner in late November but withdrew at short notice.

A few days later, vandals defaced the Hornshole Monument in the town, daubing it with slurs aimed at Hogg.

Later in December Hogg issued a statement, saying the ‘online abuse has crossed a line that is impacting my ­family, relationships and wellbeing.’ He added: ‘I’m upset that people think that I have not been there for my children – this is not the case. I do and will continue to see them often. My marriage ended some time before the baby was born. It was the best ­decision for us all.’

And yet Hogg seemed content to keep feeding the beast. Within days of that statement, he posted a picture of himself and Mayor in their finery at Musselburgh Races.

But it was swiftly removed, after one of the most unedifying episodes in a tale that was turning into a soap opera.

Stuart Hogg and Leonna Mayor flaunt their romance on social media

Stuart Hogg and Leonna Mayor flaunt their romance on social media 

Gillian Hogg is said to be ‘broken’ by split

 Gillian Hogg is said to be ‘broken’ by split

Their January 1 day at the races ended up back at his brother Graham’s house in Hawick, where a family bust-up ensued. It became so heated the police were called.

One source told The Sun the family day out got ‘very messy’ and led to Hogg temporarily deleting his Instagram account and his brother deleting all the pictures from the day out.

Only a day earlier, it was revealed that Hogg had been made an MBE for his services to rugby. It should have been a time of enormous pride for his family. Instead, it seems, tensions in it were running high.

Police later confirmed they had attended following a report of a disturbance but said that no criminality had been established.

In his hometown this week, it is fair to say the local hero’s reputation is not what it once was, at least for some.

One 42-year-old man tells the Mail: ‘His attitude is shocking.’ Friends or family, he suggests, should have told him to ‘tone it down’.

‘His reputation is definitely tarnished. He’s definitely not got a good name. Before, he was well thought of.’

A local woman, meanwhile, says: ‘You will hear nothing good from me. He left the family with three children. His wife just gave birth to the fourth and he was with somebody else and put pictures on social media.’

At his home in the town, Hogg’s father John says ­simply: ‘We have spoken with Stuart and, as a family, we’re just keeping quiet.’

Only three other players have notched up 100 caps or more for the international team and no Scottish player has scored more tries for his country than Hogg.

And yet there is a sense he may have lost more than his rugby career when he retired disappointingly early following a catalogue of injuries.

Did he also lose his sound judgment? And if so, is it ­coming back?

In his new relationship, there is certainly a shared knowledge of the trauma of premature retirement.

Mayor won 32 races between 2009 and 2013 but had to bow out of the sport in her early 20s due to an ankle injury.

The pair now earn their livings in similar ways too. But it is in their image-obsessed – some would say narcissistic – posts on social media that they are perhaps most alike.

Their romance is a private matter they seem powerless to stop publicising – often at the most inopportune moments.

j.brocklebank@dailymailco.uk



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