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Former Scottish captain Laidlaw retires from Test rugby

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London (AFP)

Greig Laidlaw, who captained the Scotland team a record 39 times, announced his retirement from Test rugby on Thursday declaring it an "incredibly tough" decision.

The 34-year-old scrum-half, who captained his country in 39 of his 76 Test appearances since making his debut in November 2010, is also Scotland's second highest points scorer of all time with 714.

Laidlaw, currently plying his trade at French Top 14 outfit Clermont, joins another former skipper, John Barclay, and winger Tommy Seymour in calling it a day on their Test careers after a disappointing World Cup which saw the Scots return home after the pool stage.

"Emotionally, this decision was incredibly tough however, when I reflected on what I have learned from playing Test level rugby and where Scotland is as a national team, it makes sense," he said in a Scottish Rugby Union statement.

"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 Murrayfield, is incredibly hard."

Laidlaw, who first captained Scotland against South Africa in 2013, said it was only reasonable for the likes of himself to retire in order to give head coach Gregor Townsend the opportunity to build afresh for the 2023 World Cup.

"While my body and heart could continue playing, my head tells me that it's time to let the team rebuild," he said.

"In terms of where Scotland is now, they are in a position to spring forward."

Townsend paid a fulsome tribute to Laidlaw, who envisages a career in business when he fully retires.

"That he began his Scotland career at stand-off before claiming the number nine jersey shows what an exceptional rugby player he is and was for Scotland," said Townsend.

"To be captain on so many occasions, rightly places him alongside the best players to ever lead the national team."

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