Aikman calls it a day

Date: 07 August 2014

Experienced scrum half Craig Aikman has announced that he is to step back from National League rugby having decided to move into semi-retirement.

Aikman 36, has made over 300 National League appearances during a 19 season senior career which saw him gain representative honours with Lancashire and England Counties. However with a young family and a time demanding role in his professional career, Craig no longer has the time available to commit to play in National 2 North. He hopes to be able to help out his old club Blackburn in the short term and move into some social rugby to keep fit.

After leaving school he played in South Africa during a gap year with the False Bay U21 side before returning to the UK and joining Blackburn RFC. After a prolific spell at Blackburn he moved into the National Leagues and went on to play for Waterloo, Halifax and Fylde whilst also having a spell out of the National Leagues as player coach at Fleetwood before joining Hoppers during the 2012/13 season to resume National League duties. In all he made 41 appearances for the Lightfoot Green club scoring 8 tries. A consistent try scorer throughout his career, his National League strike rate was an impressive 113 tries in 313 games, many a result of his searing pace able to exploit blind side gaps. In total he has made around 400 career appearances when his Blackburn, Fleetwood and representative games are taken into account.

Aikers goes over against Hull

Aikers goes over against Hull

Speaking on his decision Craig said “A lot of people have reminded me that you are a long time retired but I feel the time is right to play more social rugby and retire from the National Leagues. I would like to thank the club, my family and all those involved in the game. I’ve fantastic memories and made some great friends. I wish Hoppers all the best for the season ahead!”

Director of Rugby Gareth Dyer said “I’ve known Budgie (Aikman) for many years and it was clear from his first games with Blackburn that he was a very talented player. He was a regular try scorer and has always proved very difficult to stop when close to the line. He’s had a fine career in the National Leagues and to be picked for England Counties shows how highly he was rated within the semi-professional game. In his time with Hoppers he has brought his experience to the fore and last season he came up with some big performances when we needed to steady the ship. The game against Hull towards the end of last season was one of his best in a Hoppers shirt and showed that he had lost little of his ability to sniff out a score or direct the play from the base of the scrum”.

Turning to successors for the Hoppers number 9 shirt Dyer said “We have some very talented young 9’s at the club in the form of Sam Whyte, Sam Kindred and Harrison Moulding. I’m sure the three of them will be keen to succeed Craig and I’m looking forward to seeing them developing their game and battling it out to be the first choice scrum half. The scrum half role is pivotal in any team, it is the “heartbeat” position. All three have demonstrated they have the ability, it’s now about who has the maturity to take their game to the next level and become a consistent starter. Behind those three we also have two very promising young lads in Josh Todd and Andy Hulme who have been involved in pre-season and shown they are more than capable of handling the step up to senior rugby. They will be allowed to develop in their own time but they are two young guys who have promising futures at the club”.

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