Greig Laidlaw – who captained Scotland more than any other player (39 of his 76 appearances) and is the country’s second all-time points scorer (714) – today brought an end to a stellar Test career.
Speaking as he steps out of the Test arena Greig Laidlaw said: “Emotionally, this decision was incredibly tough however, when I reflected on what I have learned from playing Test level rugby and where Scotland is as a national team, it makes sense.
“Captaining your country to victory is the stuff of childhood dreams. To say I will never again stand in the tunnel, filled with nerves, alongside my rugby family and lead my teammates out on to the pitch at BT Murrayfield, is incredibly hard.
“While my body and heart could continue playing, my head tells me that it’s time to let the team rebuild. In terms of where Scotland is now, they are in a position to spring forward and I cannot wait to give them my full support from the stands.
“To the Scotland coaches and backroom staff over the years who dedicate hours behind the scenes to prepare the team collectively and as individuals, I thank you. To the people who have helped me achieve my dreams: my team-mates, my parents, sister, family, close friends and my incredible wife, Rachel, and our sons, I will be forever thankful for all the support you have shown me over the years; you have stuck by me through thick and thin.
“I’d also like to thank Scottish Rugby and the staff behind the scenes who have both supported me as captain and a player and enabled the team to perform in front of capacity crowds. And finally, a massive thanks to the Scotland supporters both in Scotland and abroad for sharing the rollercoaster ride of international rugby with me. Your support was always appreciated, from messages on social media to being at the stadium, or just stopping to chat on the street. I look forward to supporting the team alongside you all at BT Murrayfield soon. Alba gu bràth.”
"A massive thanks to the Scotland supporters both in Scotland and abroad for sharing the rollercoaster ride of international rugby with me."
7⃣6⃣ Test caps— Ultimate Rugby (@ultimaterugby) December 19, 2019
3⃣9⃣ As captain
2⃣ Rugby World Cups
1⃣ Lions Tour
✅Captained 🏴 more than any other player
✅ Scotland's all-time points scorer
Thanks for the memories Greig 🙌 pic.twitter.com/3i3hqQRZSD
Greig led Scotland on 39 of his 76 appearances following his international debut, aged 25, against New Zealand in 2010.
His Test breakthrough amounted to two replacement appearances in his favoured scrum-half role before he narrowly missed out on final squad selection for Rugby World Cup 2011, a moment that galvanised the ambition of the resolute, competitive player he would become.
The next Test opportunity for the proud Jed man came the following year when his versatility and rugby nous were pressed into action at stand-off, where he made 11 further Scotland appearances, including a clean sweep of summer tour wins in 2012 over Australia, Fiji and Samoa.
Finishing the season in possession of the No. 9 jersey led to him being named captain for the first time in 2013 – against South Africa in Nelspruit – starting an unprecedented association with the role that came to an end when he led Scotland against Japan in the final Test of Rugby World Cup 2019.
By 2014, it was clear Laidlaw had developed significantly as both a leader and scrum-half, his commanding hand on the tiller and goal kicking in particular now dependable features of his game.
His metronomic displays helped Scotland to the quarter-finals of RWC2015 and his nomination for World Rugby Player of the Year, only the second Scot to achieve such an accolade.
A 2017 British & Irish Lions call-up came after recovering from an ankle injury sustained in that year’s away Six Nations match in Paris.
He would return to star in the 2018 Six Nations Championship, scoring 22 points in Scotland’s home win over France and featuring against England in the Calcutta Cup triumph two weeks later.
Laidlaw played three times at RWC2019 earlier this year, where he passed the 100-World Cup tournament point mark in Scotland’s final match against the hosts, in what would ultimately be his last game in dark blue.