Mike Blair announces international retirement

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MIKE BLAIR, Scotland’s most-capped scrum-half, is to retire from international rugby.

Blair, 31, is bringing down the curtain on a glittering ten-year international career during which he won 85 caps, skippered Scotland on 14 occasions, toured with the British and Irish Lions in 2009 and became the only Scottish player so far to be nominated for IRB World Player of the Year (2008).

Blair said: “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 from international rugby, 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.”

Blair’s former Edinburgh and Scotland team-mate, Chris Paterson, led the tributes this week. He said: “Mike was one of the most gifted and naturally skilful players I ever played alongside. His ability to read a game and make the correct decision was brilliant. He was razor-sharp in attack and his defence, especially when chasing back and cover tackling, showed how tough a player he was.”