Mike Blair will step down as head coach of Edinburgh at the end of the current season with the former Scotland scrum-half stating that he wants to focus on becoming "a world class attack coach". 

The 41-year-old, who was widely regarded as the heir apparent to Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend, explained that his real passion is for working with players on the training paddock – rather than being burdened with the myriad other demands of being in charge a professional team such as contract negotiations, team selection and forward planning.

Edinburgh have not yet identified Blair’s replacement and the recruitment process will begin immediately. If an internal appointment is made, Stevie Lawrie – the former Edinburgh and Scotland A hooker – would be the most obvious candidate. He has been on the staff as assistant forwards coach since 2019 and is well respected for his rugby knowledge and straight-talking approach to the job.

With Townsend also out of contract after the World Cup in the Autumn, Scottish Rugby could be looking for candidates to fill two key coaching posts at the same time.

“My greatest passion is coaching – developing individuals, groups, and the team – to allow them to get the most out of themselves," said Blair. "As a head coach it is very difficult to do this justice because of everything else that comes with the role. For my next role I want to put my energy and knowledge into being a world class attack coach.

“My time as head coach has been a brilliant experience, working with outstanding players, coaches, and management. It is also an all-consuming job, which I have given everything to since being appointed and I’ve learnt a lot about myself and the game during this period. This will be invaluable going forward as I look to continue my development, whilst not ruling out a return to a head coach role in the future.

“Edinburgh Rugby and Scottish Rugby have been incredibly supportive and patient with me while I came to this decision, which I am very grateful for. It has been humbling to lead my home club, so it was an incredibly difficult decision to make.

“I know this decision may come as surprise to some people, but I truly believe focusing on my passion will allow me to get the best out of myself and the players I coach.”

After hanging up his boots in 2016, Blair segued straight into full-time coaching as an assistant to Townsend, first at Glasgow Warriors and then with Scotland from 2017 until the summer of 2021, when he was parachuted into the Edinburgh job after Richard Cockerill left the club abruptly. 

He led the capital outfit to the URC play-offs and quarter-finals of the Challenge Cup in his first season, but the capital outfit have had a rocky time recently, losing six out of their last seven matches in the United Rugby Championship.

“I’d like to thank Mike for his contribution to Edinburgh Rugby,” said Douglas Struth, Edinburgh Rugby Managing Director. “He’s a club legend and has played a big part in creating many memorable moments for the club, with a lot still to play for in the current campaign.

“I’d also like to commend him for what is a proactive, positive, and brave decision, which is in keeping with how he has operated in the past season and a half with the club. During this time we have made notable progress under his leadership – driving standards and our style of play in our new home.”

Mark Dodson, Scottish Rugby, CEO added: “I’d like to extend my thanks to Mike for the superb job he has done at Edinburgh Rugby.

“I know this wasn’t an easy decision for him to not continue as Head Coach but it is one I fully respect and support as the best thing for Mike as a coach and individual.

“He deserves credit for both the progress and achievements the club have made in the past two seasons and for his own personal contribution to that.

“Mike will still be in post for the rest of this season, and I know the team and coaching group still have a lot to play for and will want to end this campaign on a high.

“We are in discussions with Edinburgh and Douglas Struth to find a new Head Coach for the club, who will update the fans further once this is completed.”