Former Scotland captain Greig Laidlaw announced he will step away from international rugby recently. With that, he became the third Scottish rugby player to announce international retirement after the World Cup, where Scotland underperformed and crashed out in the group stage, which made many sports bettors lose a fortune.
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The 34-year-old Clermont scrum-half announced his international retirement, stating this was one of the hardest decisions he had to make, but explained he felt the time has come for him as a player and a person to leave international rugby, which he believes will benefit both his family and Scotland.
“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,” said Laidlaw.
“It’s never going to last forever, and I’ve always been passionate about you only ever getting a certain amount of time in the jersey, and you need to give the jersey everything you can. I’ve done that.”
Laidlaw will end his international career having skippered his side in 39 out of his 76 international appearances, which is more than any other Scottish player. On top of that, he is also Scotland’s second-highest point scorer with 714 to his name.
Laidlaw’s decision will make him the third Scottish player to announce his international retirement following the World Cup, where Scotland finished third in Group A, behind Japan and Ireland, which earned them a direct ticket for 2023 Rugby World Cup.
Both John Barclay, who also had a spell as Scotland’s captain, and winger Tommy Seymour have already announced they will retire from their international duties this month, delivering Scotland’s rugby team a massive blow as three respected players move away from the team.
For The Good Of The Team
While it is hard to see Laidlaw retire from international duties for the fans, it’s not an easy move for him either, but he believes he has to step away in order to help Scotland’s team grow.
“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 Murrayfield is incredibly hard,” he said.
“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.”
As a nephew of Scotland scrum-half Roy Laidlaw, Laidlaw followed the footsteps of his uncle and became a pro rugby player. In early days he played for Borders U16 and U18 as well as Scotland U18.
In summer 2006, he joined Edinburgh, where his career took off. While his opportunities to play for his national side were limited at the start behind Scotland scrum-half Mike Blair, Laidlaw got a chance to prove himself in 2010, when he made his Scotland debut against New Zealand at 25 years of age.
Since that day, nine years have passed, and during that time, Laidlaw has been a mainstay for the squad while also playing club rugby for Gloucester and Clermont. While a scrum-half, Laidlaw was often used as the first-choice goal kicker by his teams, which helped him become one of the most successful scorers in rugby union history, with well over 700 points for Scotland throughout his career.
He also became only the second Scotsman after Mike Blair to be nominated for World Rugby’s Player of the Year in 2015 when he captained Vern Cotter’s Scotland to the quarterfinals of the World Cup in England. That was Scotland’s sixth quarterfinals appearance in the team’s history and second-best result behind their fourth-place finish in 1991.
“Greig has been an outstanding servant for Scottish rugby, through the passion and skill he displayed when wearing the thistle on his chest and also on the many occasions he led the side,” said Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend.
“That he began his Scotland career at stand-off before claiming the number nine jersey shows what an exceptional rugby player he is and was for Scotland and, to be captain on so many occasions, rightly places him alongside the best players to ever led the national team.”
As time went on, his starting berth for Scotland increasingly came under threat from Glasgow Warriors scrum-half Ali Price. Laidlaw also lost his captaincy to Stuart McInally for the 2019 World Cup in October. But he still played three out of four pool matches, including the crucial decider against Japan, where he reclaimed the armband when McInally was dropped.
Unfortunately, Scotland failed to progress from the group stage, and Laidlaw intimated he would consider his international future going forward. His decision, in the end, came down to him opting to leave the team and make way for younger generations.