Chris Fusaro, who went all the way from Howe of Fife minis to the Scotland international team, has retired from professional rugby.
The 31-year-old from Cupar made over 183 appearances for Glasgow Warriors in a professional career lasting over 11 years. The teak-tough open-side flanker also won four caps for Scotland.
Fusaro and his best friend from boyhood Pete Horne both came up through the Howe of Fife club from mini-rugby. They played together in junior rugby, for the Howe Youth and Bell Baxter High School team, for Scotland Under-20s, for Glasgow and for Scotland.
‘The best of memories’
Never was a backwards step taken 😤
— Glasgow Warriors (@GlasgowWarriors) May 19, 2021
“The years are full of nothing but the best of memories, and it is hard to put into words my gratitude to everyone who has helped me make them,” he said.
“To all my coaches at Glasgow who gave me the opportunities to play for a team who take immense pride in what it means to represent the Warriors, thank you.
“To the fans at Firhill and then Scotstoun who have given us incredible support over the years, without you our team wouldn’t be where it is today.
“Finally to all my brothers, past and present, the memories I’ve made with you, on and off the pitch, will last a lifetime. I’ll miss the feeling after a game when you look around and know that everyone has given everything, although the not being sore part might be quite nice…
“Last of all, my long-suffering wife, Katie. Thank you for being there for the whole journey, for the many ups and down, for keeping me smiling and grounded along the way and for singlehandedly bringing up our kids whilst I was away doing what I loved.”
Fusaro, a scion of the well-known Cupar and St Andrews family gelato and wine shop businesses Luvians, was undersized in modern terms for a forward. But his speed and dynamism about the park made him a formidable opponent.
Part of the all-conquering Howe Youth team of 2007
He was first noticed as part of the fine Howe junior team that eventually had a clean sweep of national prizes in 2007. They won the SRU Youth Cup at fifteens and sevens, and also – as Bell Baxter High – were the last state school to win the Scottish Schools Cup.
Fusaro played for Scotland Under-20s alongside Horne, Stuart McInally, Richie Gray and Henry Pyrgos in the 2008-09 season when they won three games in the Junior Six Nations.
He made his debut for Glasgow when the club still played at Firhill, against Cardiff Blues in February 2010. Only two years later, he was voted both the club’s Player of the Season and Players’ Player of the Season.
He played in Glasgow’s breakthrough PRO12 final victory over Munster in Belfast in 2015. Later that year he passed 100 appearances for the club.
Fusaro was first capped for Scotland in the Calcutta Cup game of 2014, leading the team in tackles made with 16. He made three other appearances for his country that year, including the win against Italy in Rome.
He also played for Scotland’s 7s teams at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi.
‘A fantastic servant to the club’
Defence Coach Kenny Murray, the club’s longest-serving coach, highlighted the flanker’s professionalism following the announcement.
“Chris has been a player who not only gives everything on the pitch but is an example to others on how he prepares off it,” he said.
“The fact he has been a one-club player and sits third on the club’s all time appearance list is a testament to his team first attitude and commitment to Glasgow throughout his 11 seasons.
“He exhibits the traits of a Warrior more than most – hard work, effort and selflessness and has been a part of the leadership group of the club for a number of years now which is a testament to his ability to lead others and drive standards
“He has been a fantastic servant to the club and is someone who will be missed in the environment.”
‘An outstanding rugby career’
Glasgow Warriors Managing Director Al Kellock and former captain said Fusaro had “an outstanding rugby career.”
“He has set standards at Glasgow Warriors for over a decade. He’s had an enormous impact on the club and all those who have been connected to it.
“On a personal level he has been a great support to me over many years in various guises and for that I can’t thank him enough.
“I wish Chris, Katie and the kids all the very best in the next chapter. We look forward to having them back at Scotstoun to allow the supporters to show how much he has meant to them.”