FORMER Edinburgh and Scotland flanker John Hardie has announced he is to retire at the end of the season aged 32.

Born in New Zealand, he qualified for Scotland through a grandparent from Fife, and won 16 caps between 2015 and 2017.

Hardie, who joined his current club Newcastle from Edinburgh in 2018, announced his decision on the Falcons website. “I think I could play for another year or two, but with the way the body is and the time it takes to recover between games I just think it’s the right time to move on to a different career path,” he said. 

“It has to happen sometime, so it’s better that I decide it on my own terms. I feel like I’m playing good rugby, and I just don’t want to be hanging around or holding on for too long.

“With the way I play the game you have to throw everything into it, and whereas it used to be one or two days to get over a game, now it’s pretty much the full week until it’s time to play again on the weekend. I won’t miss waking up feeling like roadkill on a Sunday morning, but I’ve enjoyed my career and I’ve got nothing but gratitude for what rugby has given me.”

After five years with the Highlanders in New Zealand, Hardie was recruited by then Scotland coach Vern Cotter in 2015. He made an immediate impact in a pre-World-Cup friendly against Italy, played in another warm-up game against France, and went on to play three Tests in the tournament itself.

Joining Edinburgh after the World Cup, he became the team’s first-choice openside for a couple of seasons, with Hamish Watson as his understudy. But his time at Edinburgh turned sour in late 2017 when he was suspended for three months for a disciplinary offence, and he left for Newcastle at the end of that season.

Hardie intends to stay in the capital, and hopes to continue working in sport. “The plan is to stay with my partner in Edinburgh, because she’s from the UK and I’ve loved my time here,” he continued.

“I’m just finishing my studies in strength and conditioning, which is the sort of line I’m looking to go down in terms of my future career. Hopefully that can be in a sports or high-performance setting, but as always I’ll just work hard and keep an open mind."