Former Scotland captain Greig Laidlaw has announced his retirement from the international game effective immediately.
The scrum-half is second on Scotland’s all-time record points scorers and has won 76 caps for his country since making his debut in 2010.
And after being part of the Scotland squad at the World Cup in Japan, Laidlaw felt it was the right time to call it a day, although he admitted it was a very difficult decision to make.
He said: “When I sat back and took the time to really think, I feel it’s the right time, both for me as a player and as a person, for us as a family and for the Scotland team as well.
“I’ve taken the emotionally extremely difficult decision to step away from Test match rugby with immediate effect. I’ll be retiring from international rugby as of now.
“World Cups are a good time for transition. It’s never going to last forever, sadly. I’ve always been passionate that you only ever get a certain amount of time in the jersey and you need to give the jersey everything you can.
“I feel I’ve done that and my time has sadly now come to an end. I look forward to watching the boys pull on the blue jerseys and I’ll be right behind the team going forward. When you take the emotion away from it, which for me is really hard to do because I’m a passionate Scotsman and it’s been a massive part of my life and always will be, it was hard.
“But when I removed that emotion, I felt it was the right time, for the team and for me. I’ve given everything I can and now it’s up to the young boys. Certainly my rugby journey is not over, I’m still playing professionally which I’ll be looking to do for the foreseeable future but I felt in terms of the international commitment that the time was right.”
Laidlaw made 37 Championship appearances, including making his maiden Test start at fly-half against Wales in Cardiff in 2012.
He first captained his country the following year, going on to lead Scotland 39 times, the most of any Scot.
And as he prepares to move into the next stage of his career, Laidlaw is already looking forward to cheering on his compatriots.
He added: “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.”