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Scottish fans hopeful despite retirements

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Scotland have just lost 207 caps of experience through retirements, but fans still hopeful of bright future

Another long-serving member of the Scotland team retired from international rugby this week as Grieg Laidlaw brought his 76-match Test career to an end. 

The 34-year-old joins fellow former Scotland captain John Barclay in retirement, as well as Tommy Seymour, who toured on the 2017 British and Irish Lions with Laidlaw. 

Since Scotland crashed out of the World Cup in the pool stage, head coach Gregor Townsend has lost 207 caps-worth of experience between those three players who have been mainstays in the national team for the best part of a decade. 

It is for that reason that many fans are lamenting the end of an era for Scottish rugby. However, it is equally the beginning of a new one with some very promising players. 

In every position that has seen these Scots retire there are players that will ably step up to replace them.

Flankers like Hamish Watson and Jamie Ritchie are both vying for the blue seven shirt, while Magnus Bradbury is shaping up to be Scotland’s blindside flanker for years to come in Barclay’s absence. 

Ali Price and Laidlaw have battled for the nine shirt over the past year or so, and George Horne showed in the RWC that he is a Test player. 

Elsewhere, Darcy Graham and Blair Kinghorn are two wingers that are prime candidates to fill the void left by Seymour. While these are big names leaving Scottish rugby, there is undoubtedly the class at Townsend’s disposal to take the team forward as they build for the next RWC. 

Laidlaw even highlighted this in an Instagram post in which he said “my head tells me that it is 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”. 

Such is his devotion to the national team, that he has chosen what he feels to be the best time to step down. 

View this post on Instagram

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. A number of years ago I was afforded the opportunity as captain to lead the team tactically and understand how to steer a national team both on the field and through preparation. I have learned the importance of asking for help, involving others in leadership and I recognise that collective leadership is the ultimate path to follow, to lift others up such that they can go further. These skills will stand me in great stead throughout the remainder of my playing career and into business. 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.

A post shared by Greig Laidlaw (@g.laidlaw) on

The Clermont scrum-half has finished his international career with 714 points, the second-most in his country’s history, and with a Scottish record of captaining his side in 39 Test matches. 

He has not been without his critics throughout his career due to his style of play, but no one has faulted his contribution in a Scotland shirt since making his debut in 2010 in what has been described as a difficult period. He now leaves the shirt in a better place. 

WATCH: Scotland rugby legend Gavin Hastings surprises one of Glasgow Warriors’ longest-serving fans, Eric Graham, by giving him a lift to Scotstoun for a match in a Land Rover Discovery   

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Scotland have just lost 207 caps of experience through retirements, but fans still hopeful of bright future
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