Former Scotland captain Greig Laidlaw has confirmed his international retirement.

The 34-year-old Clermont scrum-half skippered the side in 39 out of his 76 international appearances, more times than any other player, and is Scotland’s second-highest point scorer with 714.

“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 statement. 

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Laidlaw is the third Scotland player to announce their international retirement following the World Cup, along with flanker John Barclay – another former captain – and wing Tommy Seymour.

The 34-year-old, who was also called into the 2017 British and Irish Lions squad, admitted it had been a tough decision.

“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 team-mates out on to the pitch at Murrayfield, is incredibly hard,” he said.

“While my body and heart could continue playing, my head tells me that it’s time to let the team rebuild.

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“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.”

Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend added: “Greig has been an outstanding servant for Scottish rugby, through the passion and skill he displayed when wearing the thistle on his chest and also on the many occasions he led the side.

“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 and, to be captain on so many occasions, rightly places him alongside the best players to ever led the national team.”