EDINBURGH HAVE AGREED to allow captain and scrum-half Greig Laidlaw benefit from a five-week rest, following a request from the Scottish Rugby Union.
The rest period has been prescribed with a view towards 2015, which will see Scotland take part in Pool B of the Rugby World Cup alongside South Africa and Samoa, as well as the ‘Asia 1′ and ‘Americas 2′ qualifiers.
Laidlaw will also be involved in the national team’s four-Test tour this summer, when they will face the US, Canada, Argentina and the Springboks. The 28-year-old is seen as being a key man as the Scots move forward under incoming coach Vern Cotter in the coming years.
The current season has seen Laidlaw make 10 starts for Edinburgh [five in the Heineken Cup and five in the RaboDirect Pro12], while he started three November Tests and five Six Nations fixtures for Scotland.
Laidlaw will join Gloucester next season, meaning that this rest period signals that the clever playmaker may only feature twice more for Edinburgh on the pitch, unless the club advances to the Pro12 play-offs. He will move to the Aviva Premiership side during the summer.
Scott Johnson, Scotland’s director of rugby said:
Greig has played a lot of rugby for both Edinburgh Rugby and Scotland this season and he’s been a key figure in our leadership group. His time at Edinburgh has meant a great deal to him and he will have the opportunity to play again for Edinburgh this season.
“With the schedule as it stands looking ahead over the next 16 to 18 months, we’re grateful to Edinburgh for supporting this move.”
Scotland have every reason to be grateful to the club, particularly with Alan Solomons’ side currently sitting eighth in the Pro12. As next season’s European competition will almost certainly call on Edinburgh to finish in the top seven in order to qualify, one would have presumed Laidlaw’s experience and goal-kicking would have been vital in that push.
Among Edinburgh’s remaining seven fixtures are clashes with Munster [home] and Leinster [away] on the final two weekends of the regular season schedule, although Laidlaw is likely to be back in action by then.
Should other nations be following Scotland’s example and asking clubs to rest certain players?