Barclay announced the retirement in his The Times Scotland. The backrow had designs on continuing his professional career, but a lack of opportunities has meant he has had to make his pandemic break from the game a permanent one. He was released by Edinburgh earlier this year but had spoken about not ending his career on a bum note.
Speaking to the BBC’s Rugby Union Weekly podcast in June, he said: “It [the pandemic] has given me a nudge to think I would like to play a couple more games. But recruitment in rugby has dried up.
“I’m seeing how things develop over the next few months. Nothing is happening right now so I’ve got to wait and see. It’s maybe a bit tricky to find a club potentially, budgets are getting cut, all the clubs are losing money.”
Back in March in a prophetic RugbyPass column, Barclay wrote: “Players looking for contracts now have no shop window in which to demonstrate their wares to potential suitors. The season could peter out, players departing without the opportunities to win silverware, say thank you, or wave goodbye.”
Barclay amassed 76 Scotland caps and 14 appearances for Edinburgh, after returning from Wales.
A product of Dollar Academy and former recipient of the prestigious Macphail Scholarship, Barclay began his professional career with Glasgow Warriors aged just 18-years-old. His performances for the now Scotstoun-based side were soon rewarded with selection in Scotland’s squad for the 2007 World Cup in France where he made his international debut against New Zealand aged 20.
Barclay amassed 152 appearances over eight years in the West before joining Scarlets in 2013. As one of the Llanelli outfit’s most consistent and respected performers, the back-row was named the team’s captain ahead of the 2016/17 season before lifting the Guinness PRO12 title, defeating Munster 46-22 in the final.
The 33-year-old was named Scotland captain during the 2016 Six Nations and skippered the National Team during Gregor Townsends’s inaugural summer tour to Australia, Singapore and Fiji. He continued his captaincy in last weekend’s win over Samoa and will lead Scotland out against the All Blacks at BT Murrayfield tomorrow.
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