Scrum-half Mike Blair ends his international career with Scotland after 85 caps
Last Updated: 09/01/13 5:05pm
Mike Blair: Time to go, says Scotland's most-capped scrum-half
Scotland's most-capped scrum-half Mike Blair has announced his retirement from international rugby.
The 31-year-old brings down the curtain on his career after 85 appearances, 14 of them as captain, and one tour with the British & Irish Lions.
"I have enjoyed immensely representing my country for more than ten years and will miss that exhilarating feeling of running out to a capacity crowd with the whole country behind you."
Blair made a try-scoring debut for Scotland against Canada on the 2002 North American tour and scored six more tries over the rest of his international career - he will continue to play club rugby in France for Brive until the end of the season and is considering his options for next year.
"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 said.
"I have enjoyed immensely representing my country for more than ten 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.
"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, 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."
Scotland's interim head coach Scott Johnson, who will guide the team through the upcoming RBS Six Nations, was full of praise for Blair.
"I really enjoyed working with Mike during the summer tour and the more recent autumn Tests," he said.
"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."