Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


Mike Blair signs for Glasgow

Mike Blair - image courtesy Edinburgh Rugby / AP

The former Scotland captain and British & Irish Lion will move to Scotstoun in the summer from Newcastle Falcons, subject to a medical.

With 85 caps to his name, Blair is Scotland’s most capped scrum-half and will be returning to Scotland three years after leaving Edinburgh Rugby for Brive. Following a year in France, he joined Newcastle Falcons and has gone on to play 39 times for the Aviva Premiership side.

Blair captained Scotland on 14 occasions before retiring from international rugby at the start of 2013 and has played in three Rugby World Cups during his career. He was also part of the 2009 British and Irish Lions squad, which toured South Africa although he failed to make much of an impact on that tour.

The 33-year-old was named Scotland’s Player of the Year in 2008 and is the only Scotsman to have ever been nominated for the IRB International Player of the Year, that same season.

Blair enjoyed ten years with Edinburgh Rugby, playing 158 times and scoring 78 points. He was twice named Edinburgh’s Player of the Year and helped them reach the semi-finals of the European Cup in 2012.

Commenting on the move, Mike Blair said: “I’m very excited about moving back to Scotland and joining a very ambitious club.

“One of the reasons I’m moving to Glasgow is the opportunity to work with Gregor (Townsend) 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.

“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.

Townsend himself said: “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.” With Matawalu off to Bath and Glasgow looking to play with a little bit less lunacy, it is tailor-made for a guy who was Scotland’s most potent attacking scrum half (often player full stop) during his time in navy to hone the attack around the fringes and bring on two younger talents.

He continued, “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.”

With Blair’s columns on the BBC website during the Six Nations showing a clear rugby brain at work, it seems likely that this is a move intended to boost the coaching brains trust of Scottish rugby and Glasgow in particular while giving Glasgow another option at 9.

21 Responses

  1. He may have some coaching ability- I cant comment on that. However, he is a very mediocre player and certainly not the sort of one that an ambitious club like Glasgow should be looking for. I dont ever remember him having a great game for Scotland and cant remeber the last time he got a game for our national squad. The Glasgow team need to look to the future instead of signing yesterdays man.

  2. Blair retired from international rugby in 2013, Neil. He has captained Scotland, played for the Lions and is the ONLY Scottish player in history to be nominated for the IRB player of the year. He was also integral in Edinburgh’s run into the ERC semi’s (a leader in the only Scottish side to achieve that). Fairly mediocre, like you say. Blair’s columns for the BBC are excellent and indicate that he could make great coaching material. With Kellock potentially being developed for a similar role, the future of Scottish coaching talent may just be looking a wee bit brighter.

    1. So he may make a great coach if he can read the game well, motivate players etc. If thats the case then great- bring him in as a trainee coach- Scotland needs more quality coaching staff at present so i dont have a problem with that. Biut as a player he is yesterdays man. I just seem to call him as being a bit like Greg Laidlaw- game full of errors, too many Garryowen and box kicks goping nowhere etc. he was also really small which ment that he couold be pushed arround quite easily. however a good player does not make a good coach and vice- versa so Glasgowe should concentrate on developing his coaching skills. They should only consider him as a utility player to be used if there are no other options.

  3. You’re wrong Neil. Blair was one of the best Scots scrum halfs, bar none. He had electrifying pace from the breakdown in his mid 20’s, and the opposition back row had to keep tight to make sure he didn’t make any breaks. They knew they couldn’t catch him if he did gain a yard on them.
    In fact, we could use a scrum half with his kind of pace and style today! Henry Pygos is probably closest in style, although with a bit less speed.
    His service was also quick, although like many Scots scrum halfs, he spent too much of his time shouting at the forwards from the base of the rucks.
    He didn’t play in a Scots team that was on front foot very often, so he did very well considering the circumstances.
    His artilces on the beeb are always thoughtful and considered, so it’ll be interesting to see if he can transfer his knowldge and improve the current crop of scrum halfs.

    1. Blair’s main problem was that no-one else was on his wavelength. There were plenty of games when he was the only Scot to make line breaks but suffered from a complete lack of supporting runners. This is an issue Glasgow have addressed pretty well so if he can get our young 9s threatening round the fringes like he did, there will be yet more chances for the Glasgow backs to pick off.

      1. Ironically the one player whom I felt was close to his wavelength,and generally the only man in support, was a certain John Barclay!!

  4. Neil why don’t you read the article first!!!
    I think its a good signing maybe Glasgows captain next season if Big Al is stepping down…. hope not though as both on field as leaders would be good.

    still gutted both Maitland and DTHVDM leaving very difficult to replace one of them never mind two. However I am not a scout so I don’t have a clue as to who we have in scoltand that can fill that roll apart from Lee Jones time to step up and be counted young man!!

  5. pragmatic optomist – SHC has a very good chance of being a scrum half with the same dynamism and potency as Blair.

    suffolkscot – Lee Jones is nearly 27 and is still off playing 7’s, even during Glasgow’s backs injury crisis. He isn’t going to be the answer.

    Edit: Was watching the Waratahs game at the weekend and although it is rumoured that Taqele Naiyaravoro is off to Edinburgh, the commentators suggested that it was up in the air as to which of the two clubs he would be going to. Glasgow could be doing with a player that size in the backline (but so could Edinburgh)

  6. Feels like a lot of experience, he has had his highs and lows in the game, but that just makes him more attractive as a mentor for the developing players.

    If Mike was realistic about his wage expectation, what a good signing, why not, well done Warriors.

    He will stabalise or captain the side during the 6N. Will the Pro 12 be playing during the World Cup next season ? If yes, Glasgow need all the backup that is available to get a playoff place.

    A load of experience to fill the gap that senior players such as DTH and Strauss filled while the mainstays were on international duty.

  7. Lee Jones 27 … time does go by the older you get.
    Does the sevens help develop wingers?? does anyone know of any up and coming scots players that maybe bought into the squad….could Vernon play in that role?

  8. So the only decent signature for Glasgow has been the Italian flanker. I’ll be happy to be proven wrong but were only making headlines from the names who are leaving. Blair’s solid enough and in theory a nice asset as back-up, however, seen as part of a wider transfer policy, it’s a little concerning. Is this guy merely using Glasgow as a stepping stone in his coaching career, or will he be out taking hits, scoring trys in the dark depths of Winter? If he and Low were not Scots qualified, would they be offered contracts?

    1. Favoro will be sensational at Glasgow, Rate him v highly.
      Shame he can’t find any Scotish relatives.

  9. Not unhappy about this but not over the moon either. Blair has been decent for Newcastle whenever I’ve watched them, and will bring some more experience which we do need. I also think that he’s been signed in as much a coaching capacity as much as in a playing one. That said, like everyone else on these boards, I believe that Glasgow desperately need to sign two quality wingers to replace DTH and Maitland.

  10. I wonder if Mike has also been signed as the potential new club captain with Big Al announcing his retirement? I’m genuinely sorry to hear he’s retiring. A legend for Glasgow, and shabbily treated by Scotland, what Scotland would give for a captain of his stature now.

  11. It looks like that could be the case Stand off.
    It’s a sad day, but he has been a great capain and is a genuine ‘good man’. Very difficult to replace his demeanour and attitude at the club.
    Mike doesn’t bring the same Weegie grit, but I’m sure he can do a good job.
    Jon Petrie was also a good captain, so Glasgow have been lucky with captains and the right choices are being made.

  12. SAO and PO, I hope (am I dreaming) that Big Al will be rewarded for his dedication and contribution to Scottish rugby with a streamlined avenue into coaching. I see this as a positive. An individual that has proven leadership, technical ability and insight, perseverance and grit, being developed to bolster the future of Scottish Rugby. Similarly, Blair has a wealth of experience and mental acuity that I think will enhance Glasgow, and ultimately Scotland. I believe this pair will benefit Scotland well into the future, and well beyond their playing careers.

  13. I think Glasgow are going to miss Matawalu far more than they think.

    A player who can make something out of nothing is worth his weight in gold, there are very few of them about. Losing someone like him can have an effect on morale, and make a team perform less well.

    1. Losing Kellock will affect morale. Nico can be great some days and a burden on others. However he has been great for the club.

  14. Just seen Biarritz, Rod Davies and Takudzwa Ngwenya could both be available if Biarritz don’t get promoted – both would be good additions for Warriors.

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Scottish Rugby News and Opinion