Former Scotland scrum-half and captain Chris Cusiter has followed his perennial rival for the national No 9 jersey Mike Blair by announcing his retirement from the game.
The 33-year-old Aberdonian won 70 caps in an international career from 2004 and was still part of the Scotland squad in the build-up to last year’s Rugby World Cup, although he didn’t make the final squad.
Cusiter, who was part of the British and Irish Lions touring party to New Zealand in 2005, playing in the third test, was latterly played for Sale Sharks in the Aviva Premiership.
He previously had five years at Glasgow Warriors, two in France with Perpignan and had five seasons with the now-defunct Border Reivers franchise at the start of his pro career.
“As far as my rugby career goes I considered myself privileged to receive a Scotland ‘A’ cap in 2002,” he said. “If it had ended there at that point then I would have been happy.
“Playing for Scotland 70 times was more than I could have dreamed of growing up learning how to play rugby at Robert Gordon’s College in Aberdeen.
“The memories of playing for Scotland and touring New Zealand with the British and Irish Lions will be with me forever and I am grateful for all the incredible experiences I have been afforded through rugby.”
Cusiter’s career was badly disrupted by various injuries but highlights include a Top 14 title with Perpignan in France and the PRO12 final with Glasgow in 2014, and it is the memory of the team spirit that he most treasures.
“Some of the greatest times of my life have been spent with team mates in the changing rooms after great victories and I know that it will be difficult to replace those kinds of feelings,” he said.
Cusiter and Blair almost interchanged the scrum-half shirt for the best part of a decade for Scotland, even at one point being named co-captains of their country by Andy Robinson.
However unlike Blair, who announced his retirement two weeks ago and will be taking up a coaching post with Glasgow Warriors, Cusiter is not staying in the game.
Instead he and his wife are starting a new retail business featuring on Scotch whisky and based in Los Angeles.
“I’ve been fascinated by the Scotch whisky industry for the past few years, I firmly believe that it is Scotland’s finest and greatest export and something to be very proud of,” he said.
“I am excited to be involved with a product that I am so passionate about.”