Scottish Rugby bosses today confirmed that 27 times capped Edinburgh scrum half Greig Laidlaw would join Gloucester this summer.
The impending move was highlighted in yesterday’s Evening News and now that it is out in the open it leaves Laidlaw free to concentrate on helping Scotland defeat France at Murrayfield on Saturday.
Laidlaw said: “I’ve taken great pride from playing and captaining the (Edinburgh) team in some memorable matches, something which I’ll never forget.
“Naturally I’m excited about the next chapter of my career, however, my focus is completely on putting my best rugby into the Six Nations championship and delivering a strong finish for Edinburgh Rugby in the RaboDirect PRO12.”
Experienced internationalists have said that Laidlaw’s recent form appeared to have dipped, something they attributed to a major rugby decision weighing heavily upon him.
Now freed from that burden the 28-year-old is expected to quickly return to his best.
Earlier this season, too, Laidlaw appeared concerned with Edinburgh’s heavy recruitment of overseas players, some with a view to playing for Scotland on residency, but Capital coach Alan Solomons was fulsome in his praise of the player who joined from Jed-Forest in 2006.
“Greig has made a great contribution this season, both as a captain and as a player, but I also understand he feels that, at this time in his career, something new and fresh will be good for him.
“Greig has been fantastic for us but this move clearly opens the door for the three quality young Scottish scrum-halves that we have at the club.
“He goes absolutely with our blessing. We wish him well and we thank him for the terrific contribution he has made to the club,” said Solomons.
Today, Gloucester coach Nigel Davies hailed a signing who can play either half back position, saying: “We see him (Laidlaw) very much as a nine/ten, a role that he’s fulfilled for Scotland. He’s exactly the right sort of character that we want to bring in to the squad, he’s a natural leader with a fantastic skill set and he impacts games positively. He’s also a true 80 per-cent-plus goal kicker.
“When I went up to Scotland to meet him, he realised where we were and of our desire for him to play both positions. He’s happy to do that. He’s played nearly 40 per cent of his international rugby as a fly half and has a very accurate and astute kicking game.
“And his goal kicking will be absolutely essential for us. When you look at the teams who finish in the top four, one of the things they have is a high percentage goal kicker. But, key for me having spoken to Greig, is that he’s really keen to get down to Gloucester. He feels that it’s the right move for him because of the environment and the club.
“He sees Gloucester as a proper club and wants to play at Kingsholm with the fantastic support that we have. He wants to be successful. And he feels that, with the squad we’re putting together for next season, he can do that with us.”
Laidlaw has made 135 appearances for Edinburgh notching 582 points.
He leaves to continue a tradition of Scottish scrum-halves at the English west country club where Bryan Redpath and Rory Lawson have gone before while another Scotland goal-kicker, Chris Paterson, had a season at Gloucester.
Laidlaw will leave behind a well-stocked scrum half position.
Grayson Hart (25) and Sean Kennedy (22) have both been capped by Scotland A this season while Sam Hidalgo-Clyne (20) is regarded as a top prospect.