With news this morning of the retirement of Glasgow Warriors' Mike Blair, we look back on the career of Scotland's most-capped scrum-half.
Educated at Edinburgh Academy, it was in the capital where he would begin to make a name for himself in the game. Playing at amateur level for both Edinburgh Accies and Boroughmuir. Signing a professional contract in 2002 with Edinburgh Rugby he went on to represent the club for a decade, earning himself 157 caps for the club. He earned the accolade of Club Captain as well as being Edinburgh player of the year on 2 occasions - 2006 and 2008.
Next up for Blair was the lure of France with a one year stint at Brive, followed by two years in the North of England with Newcastle Falcons. He was set to retire in 2015 before Gregor Townsend persuaded him to play on for another 2 years with a contract for Glasgow Warriors. A concussion injury, the hottest topic in rugby union at present, has forced his hand with Blair calling it a day before the 15/16 is out. Surely a very sensible decision with the on-going research in to concussion of athletes not looking all to favourable.
Internationally Blair first represented Scotland in 2002, earning his first cap against Canada in a try scoring debut. 85 caps followed with 14 of them being as captain. One of Blair's greatest achievements was to be the first Scot to be nominated for IRB Player of the year in 2008. No mean feat considering Blair's stint as a Scotland International won't be considered amongst the Scottish golden eras - he would have been no stranger to a scrum going backwards and a pack playing second fiddle.
Full interview from Scottish Rugby TV.
British & Irish Lions honours were rightly always hoped for by the Scottish rugby fraternity but somehow Blair never made the initial cut, however a call up for the injured Tomas O'Leary of Ireland did get him on a flight to South Africa in 2009, he got 'starts' against The Presidents XV and Southern Kings and a bench appearance against the Sharks, no caps earned in the test XV but cherished memories and shirts for the attic I'm sure.
So a future in coaching learning from Scotland's most successful Pro Club Coach to date, Gregor Townsend, is now on the agenda. Blair always seemed to be a classy operator and a master tactician on the field, hopefully this can transfer in to his touchline demeanour. If he can inspire the next generation in Scotland's long line of World Class scrum-halves then this pivotal position will be in safe hands.