Blair calls time on Scotland career

  • Last Updated: January 7 2013, 18:38 GMT

Former Scotland captain Mike Blair decided the time was right to quit international rugby for both his family and the national team.

Mike Blair: Confident he's made the right decision

The 31-year-old announced his retirement from the world stage in order to focus on his new life in France while allowing Scotland to blood new scrum-half talent before the 2015 World Cup.

Blair captained his country for the 14th and final time just six months ago, in a summer tour victory over Samoa, but the Brive player decided to leave the international arena despite being a regular pick.

In a statement released by the Scottish Rugby Union, Blair said: "I'm in the very fortunate position of being able to decide myself when my international career ends. For me, that time is now. "

Blair, who left Edinburgh last summer, added: "There's no doubt that moving our family to France has played a part in my decision.

"Our son Rory is now at school here and we have an 11-week-old daughter, Lucy, who was born in Brive.

"However, it's a combination of reasons that's led to my standing down from international rugby, not just one factor.

"For me, a place in the squad at the Rugby World Cup in 2015 is not a realistic personal target and, with that in mind, it's right for Scottish rugby and the Scotland team that other players gain experience in a pivotal position.

"The fact that I still feel attuned to playing at international level has made the decision harder, but it's not been reached lightly and I'm very confident that it's the right decision."

Scotland's most-capped scrum-half, Blair represented his country on 85 occasions and was also selected for the British and Irish Lions.

He made a try-scoring debut for Scotland against Canada in 2002 after representing his country at schools, under-19, under-21, sevens and A levels.

He added: "I have enjoyed immensely representing my country for more than 10 years and will miss that exhilarating feeling of running out to a capacity crowd with the whole country behind you.

"The noise when leading the team out for the first time as captain at Murrayfield against England in 2008, when we won 15-9, still makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up when I think about it.

"I want to thank everyone - my family, the Scotland management teams past and present, my team-mates and our supporters - for their enormous contribution to my international career. I have been very fortunate to have these people around me."

Blair has competed for the scrum-half position with 31-year-old Rory Lawson and 30-year-old Chris Cusiter, who have also both captained Scotland.

Cusiter has been out since September with a shoulder injury but his Glasgow team-mate Henry Pyrgos made a try-scoring debut in the November defeat by New Zealand after replacing Blair.

Edinburgh captain Greig Laidlaw has also played at scrum-half, but has more recently started as a stand-off for Scotland.

Scotland's interim head coach Scott Johnson, who will guide the team through the RBS 6 Nations, said: "I really enjoyed working with Mike during the summer tour and the more recent autumn Tests.

"There's no doubt he's a quality international rugby player and a quality bloke.

"I respect and understand his decision to retire from the international game now and, on behalf of all Scotland fans, thank him for his years of dedication to the national team."

Mike Blair Factfile:

1981 - Born on April 20 in Edinburgh.

2001 - Top scorer in the IRB Sevens in London after representing Scotland at schools, under-19 and under-21 levels.

2002 - Represents Scotland Sevens at the Commonwealth Games in Manchester. Signs professional terms for Edinburgh Gunners following spells with Edinburgh Academicals and Boroughmuir.

After seven Scotland A caps, makes his full international debut in a try-scoring appearance against Canada in June.

2003 - Makes World Cup debut against USA.

2006 - Named Edinburgh player of the season.

2007 - Misses the RBS 6 Nations with a shoulder injury but returns to play in four of Scotland's five World Cup games.

2008 - Captains Scotland for the first time after Jason White goes off against Ireland at Croke Park. Leads Scotland out against England and is named man of the match in the 15-9 Calcutta Cup triumph. Makes his 50th Scotland appearance against Argentina before being named Edinburgh team captain.

Nominated on the five-strong shortlist for the IRB player of the year award after winning his club and country prizes.

2009 - Leads Scotland out in all five Six Nations matches. Wins selection for the Lions tour of South Africa as a replacement for injured Irishman Tomas O'Leary.

2010 - Shares captaincy duties with fellow scrum-half Chris Cusiter for the Six Nations.

2011 - Wins his 75th cap against England in the World Cup.

2012 - Leaves Edinburgh after 10 years to sign for Brive.

2013 - Calls time on Scotland career after winning a total of 85 caps.

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