Blair To Lead Scotland Into Key Matches

Blair To Lead Scotland Into Key Matches

Scrum-half Mike Blair is to continue to captain Scotland into next month’s Bank of Scotland Corporate Autumn Tests. The 27-year-old Edinburgh skipper has already led his country on five occasions since being handed the captain’s role against Ireland during last season’s RBS 6 Nations Championship.Scrum-half Mike Blair is to continue to captain Scotland into next month’s Bank of Scotland Corporate Autumn Tests. The 27-year-old Edinburgh skipper has already led his country on five occasions since being handed the captain’s role against Ireland during last season’s RBS 6 Nations Championship. The announcement was made today by Scotland coach Frank Hadden, who also reported Scotland were now able to plan ahead with certainty for the Autumn Tests after the game’s worldwide governing body, the IRB, had clarified the access to Scottish internationalists based in English clubs. Hadden said: Experience and continuity are key factors in the international game and we believe Mike deserves the opportunity to build on his most recent contributions, both as a player and captain, to the Scotland team. The games we have coming up next month are massively important for Scottish Rugby. We face New Zealand, South Africa and Canada over three weeks and how we go in these contests will play a major part in determining our ranking for the 2011 Rugby World Cup draw in December. We also now have clarity on the access to our players who play with English clubs. The IRB Regulations Committee has ruled that players selected for the Autumn Tests can join us to train on Monday 27 October. Now, we can crack on with our preparations for these vital matches. We accept the ruling and we will continue to articulate the case for a robust and workable regulation which underlines the pre-eminence of the international game, which is fundamental for the game’s worldwide development. Blair, nominated for the IRB Player of the Year, marked his 50th cap by leading Scotland to victory in Buenos Aires in June – their historic first Test match success in Argentina. He is determined to move forward from that result and believes Scotland supporters can play their part in that desire. It’s a tremendous privilege to captain your country and I know from the first time I had that honour at Murrayfield earlier this year that the crowd can inspire us. Against England, when we had to dig that little bit deeper, the supporters were fantastic and it would be great if we could enjoy that level of vocal encouragement against the All Blacks, Springboks and Canada next month. The IRB has ruled that players selected for Scotland shall be made available to the national team for assembly on Monday 27 October The IRB has also ruled if a Scotland player attached to an English club is chosen in his club’s match-day 22 for matches on November 1 or 2 then they will go back to their club by Thursday 30 October, reporting back to Scotland duty no later than 24 hours after their match has finished. Mike Blair (Edinburgh and Edinburgh Academicals) Scrum half. Born: 20.4.81 in Edinburgh. Height: 5ft 11in (1.81m). Weight: 13st 8lb (86kg). Michael Robert Leighton Blair became Scotland’s 108th captain when he took over from the injured Jason White to lead the team in the 2008 RBS Six Nations Championship match against Ireland at Croke Park, Dublin. For Scotland’s next international he not only remained as captain but also won the man of the match for his performance in the Calcutta Cup victory against England by 15-9 at Murrayfield. A week later on Scotland’s visit to Italy, again as captain, he scored his fifth international try, with a sharp break from more than 20 metres out. He continued as captain for the two-Test tour in Argentina in June 2008. In the second of those internationals he became the 25th player to make 50 appearances for Scotland. After the tour he was appointed Edinburgh’s team captain. Mike was outstanding in Scotland’s victory against France in their opening game of the 2006 RBS Six Nations, making several searing breaks, and followed that up with another impressive appearance in his next Murrayfield game – the 18-12 defeat of England. He missed the 2007 Six Nations Championship because of injury, but later that year he was back in the starting line-up for Scotland’s World Cup warm-up victory against Ireland at Murrayfield. He went on to play in four of Scotland’s five 2007 RWC matches. Mike marked his Scotland debut with a try against Canada in Vancouver on the 2002 North American tour. He made that tour after scoring a 60-metre try in the non-cap match against the Barbarians at Murrayfield. His second Scotland try was against Italy in the Rugby World Cup Countdown Test in 2003. That was soon followed by his World Cup debut against the USA in Brisbane. He scored his third Scotland try in the 38-3 win against Samoa in June 2004 in Wellington, New Zealand, and five months later he made a try-scoring appearance from the bench in the historic 100-8 win against Japan at Perth. In May 2005 he was impressive in Scotland’s first-ever win against the Barbarians at Pittodrie in Aberdeen, setting up Sean Lamont’s try, and he scored two tries in the equivalent match against the invitation club a year later at Murrayfield. Mike has also played five times for Scotland A, making a try-scoring appearance as a substitute in the 13-19 defeat by France A in March 2002. The previous year he represented Scotland in the IRB Sevens in London, where he was the tournament’s top try-scorer. Mike, who was named as Edinburgh Gunners’ Player of the Year at the Scottish Rugby Awards Dinner in May 2006, represented Scottish Schools and Scotland at under-19 and under-21 levels and was part of the Scotland sevens squad at the Manchester Commonwealth Games in 2002. A former pupil of Edinburgh Academy, he played club rugby first for Edinburgh Academicals and then for Boroughmuir before joining the professional ranks with Edinburgh Gunners. Mike is a member of the Scottish Institute of Sport. International record50 caps. 2002 – C USA. 2003 – F(rep) W(rep) SA2(rep) It2 I2 RWC[USA] 2004 – W(rep) E(rep) It(rep) F(rep) I(rep) Sam(rep) A1(rep) A2(rep) J(rep) A3(rep) SA(rep). 2005 – I(rep) It(rep) W(rep) E R Arg Sam(rep) NZ(rep). 2006 – F W E I It(rep) SA1 SA2 R PI(rep) A. 2007 – I2 SA RWC[Por R It Arg]. 2008 – F W I E It Arg1 Arg2. Points: 25 – 5 tries.

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