Greig Laidlaw has announced his retirement from international rugby, following in the footsteps of John Barclay and Tommy Seymour who have also stepped away.
Laidlaw made his debut for Scotland against New Zealand in 2010, aged 25. He has since made 76 appearances, captaining the side on 39 of those occasions.
While he failed to make the World Cup squad in 2011, he was a key member of the team who qualified for the quarter-finals of the competition in 2015. That year, he was nominated for World Rugby Player of the Year.
He was also a British & Irish Lions, travelling as part of the 2017 squad to New Zealand.
In a statement, Laidlaw admitted that while his decision was tough to make, “it makes sense”.
“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.”