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Scotland rugby great Laidlaw announces retirement at 37

Scotland rugby great Greig Laidlaw announced his retirement on Wednesday aged 37, ending a career that saw him captain his country more times than any other player.

Scrum half Laidlaw will hang up his boots next month following the conclusion of the club season in Japan, where he has played since 2020.

Laidlaw, who retired from Test rugby after the 2019 World Cup, plans to move into coaching but will stay in Japan “a while longer” with his family.

“Throughout my playing career I have pushed myself, I have taken on new experiences, continuously learnt and immersed myself in different cultures,” he wrote on Instagram.

“I have always enjoyed figuring out how to work as a team and how to get the best out of my team-mates, things I will take with me and continue to develop.”

Laidlaw won 76 caps for Scotland, 39 of them as captain.

He finished as Scotland’s second-highest points scorer of all time with 714, trailing only Chris Paterson’s 809.

Laidlaw, the nephew of former Scotland scrum half Roy Laidlaw, played in two World Cups and was a member of the British and Irish Lions squad that toured New Zealand in 2017.

He captained the Scotland side that bowed out of the 2015 World Cup in controversial circumstances when South African referee Craig Joubert awarded Australia a late penalty in a 35-34 defeat for the Scots at Twickenham.

Laidlaw was incensed that the call did not go to the television match official, and bemused that Joubert ran off the field and back to the changing rooms as soon as he had blown the full-time whistle.

“We were one kick away from being in the semi-finals and arguably we should have been there,” Laidlaw said after the game.

Laidlaw was unable to lead Scotland back to the World Cup quarter-finals in Japan four years later, losing to the host nation to exit at the pool stage.

He brought the curtain down on his international career after the tournament, saying it had been an “incredibly tough” decision.

“To say I will never again stand in the tunnel, filled with nerves, alongside my rugby family and lead my team-mates out onto the pitch at Murrayfield is incredibly hard,” he said.

Laidlaw began his club career with Edinburgh before going on to play for Gloucester and Clermont, before finishing up his career with Urayasu D-Rocks in Japan.

He helped second-division Urayasu reach next month’s promotion-relegation playoff, playing alongside controversial former Australia back Israel Folau.

Laidlaw said playing in Japan had been “the most incredible experience”.

“We intend to stay as a family in Japan a while longer but it is here I will finally hang up my playing boots,” he wrote on Instagram.

“It is time to take everything I have learnt, from a playing career I could only have dreamt of, and move on into coaching.”

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