Guinness PRO12: Glasgow Warriors snap up Mike Blair
Scotland's most-capped scrum-half to join league leaders in the summer after two seasons with Newcastle Falcons
Mike Blair will return to Scotland in the summer to join Guinness PRO12 league leaders Glasgow Warriors on a two-year contract.
The 33-year-old former Dark Blues captain will move to Scotstoun Stadium after two seasons in the Aviva Premiership with Newcastle Falcons, subject to a medical.
I had opportunities to stay in England, but I want to make a further contribution to the game in Scotland, and eventually make the transition into coaching.
Scrum-half Mike Blair on signing for Glasgow Warriors
Blair, who is Scotland’s most-capped scrum-half with 85 appearances to his name, will link up again with former half-back colleague Gregor Townsend in Glasgow with a view to making the move into coaching at the end of his playing career.
Along with Falcons team-mate Allister Hogg, Blair has been involved in the coaching set-up at Durham and Northumberland Two champions Ponteland RFC this season as backs coach, while doing his level three coaching qualifications, and believes the Warriors provide the perfect platform to give back to Scottish rugby.
“I’m very excited about moving back to Scotland and joining a very ambitious club,” Blair said.
“One of the reasons I’m moving to Glasgow is the opportunity to work with Gregor again.
“I played with him when I started out with Scotland and he coached me when he was part of the Scotland set-up, and that was definitely a big factor in my decision to join the Warriors.
“My aim is to move into coaching, and I see Gregor as being a great role model.
“Part of my role will be to help the younger guys develop and it will be good to work closely with the other scrum-halves at the club such as Henry [Pyrgos] and Grayson [Hart].
“I had opportunities to stay in England, but I want to make a further contribution to the game in Scotland, and eventually make the transition into coaching.
“I’m looking forward to playing in the Guinness PRO12 again next season and I think the style of rugby will really suit my game.”
Blair’s career began with Edinburgh Academicals and Boroughmuir, before progressing to 10 seasons for 158 appearances with the Gunners, including their famous 2007/08 campaign that saw Edinburgh finish runners-up in the Celtic League and their 2011/12 run to the Heineken Cup semi-finals, before he left to join Brive, then in France’s second tier competition.
Mike’s experience and knowledge of the game will be really valuable for our playing and coaching group, and I’m certain our other scrum-halves will benefit from his input.
Gregor Townsend on Mike Blair
He helped the club achieve promotion to the Top 14 in 2012, before heading to the Aviva Premiership with newly-promoted Newcastle Falcons, where he has since made 39 appearances in all competitions.
On the international front, Blair made his debut in 2002 and appeared at the 2003, 2007 and 2011 Rugby World Cups, as well as touring South Africa with the British and Irish Lions in 2009, before calling time on his international career in January 2013.
He captained Scotland 14 times from the 2008 RBS 6 Nations against Ireland, and led the Dark Blues to a 15-9 win over England at Murrayfield in the same championship to lift the Calcutta Cup, the same year he was named Scotland’s player of the year and became the only Scot to be nominated for the World Rugby player of the year award.
Warriors head coach Townsend expects that Blair’s knowledge and experience will be a valuable asset to young scrum-halves Ali Price and Murray McConnell, as well as Scotland internationals Henry Pyrgos and Grayson Hart.
“It’s great news for the club that Mike will be joining us in the summer,” Townsend said.
“He has been in excellent form and has started most of Newcastle’s games this season.
“They’ve been playing a high-tempo attacking game, which brings out the best in Mike, and is similar to the rugby we play at Glasgow.
“Mike’s experience and knowledge of the game will be really valuable for our playing and coaching group, and I’m certain our other scrum-halves will benefit from his input.
“We expect Mike to compete hard for a starting place with our other nines next season and, in addition, bring a wealth of experience and knowledge to the club.”