Scotland back-row Alasdair Strokosch has announced his retirement from international rugby on Thursday after earning 47 caps for his country.
The 32-year-old from East Kilbride made his first full international appearance as a replacement against Australia in the 2006 Autumn Tests before earning his first of 35 starts in the Six Nations against Ireland at Croke Park in 2008.
The Dublin outing was his first of 17 appearances in eight consecutive Six Nations championships (2008-2015) – including the 2008 Calcutta Cup success – as well as four Rugby World Cup outings in the two subsequent tournaments of 2011 and 2015, with his last representative honour coming in the RWC 2015 pool win over USA at Elland Road.
“I've been lucky enough to fulfil my childhood dream of representing Scotland," said Strokosch.
"Wearing the thistle has been the greatest honour and responsibility of my life outside of raising my children and I treasure every memory from my time with the squad.
“I believe that the group we have now are among the most talented that I've seen and have the potential to achieve great things for Scottish rugby.
“I would have never achieved anything without the support over the years, particularly from Bob Easson, Carl Hogg, Dean Ryan, Shaun Longstaff, my parents and my wife Kirsty.”
Strokosch represented Scotland throughout the age-grades (U16, U18, U19, and U21), as well international sevens – on the HSBC Sevens World Series, Rugby World Cup Sevens 2005 in Hong Kong and the Melbourne 2006 Commonwealth Games – before featuring in all three of Scotland A’s matches in the 2006 Churchill Cup tour in Canada.
He also enjoyed notable success as a Scotland tourist, starting both games in the historic 2008 aggregate series success over Argentina – Scotland’s first over southern hemisphere opposition.
He missed out on the subsequent November Tests against New Zealand and South Africa, but returned for the final match of the series, scoring his first Scotland try in the 41-0 win over Canada at Pittodrie, Aberdeen.
He was then part of Scotland’s heroics on the road once more, when they repeated their feat over the Pumas in 2010, featuring – this time as a replacement – and winning both games.
Two years later he had the distinction of being voted ‘Scotland player of the tour’ by his coaches on both the 2012 trip to Australia and South Pacific, and the 2013 tour to South Africa.
On that latter occasion his injury-time try against Italy presented Greig Laidlaw with the opportunity to land the conversion that secured Scotland a 30-29 success in the quadrangular tournament.
It was following a reflection on both his career and Scotland’s journey to the last eight of the World Cup that he decided to call time on his Test career and focus the remainder of his professional playing days at his French club Perpignan.
Scotland head coach Vern Cotter paid tribute to Strokosch and thanked him for his service at Test level.
"On behalf of the Scotland squad and management I'd like to thank Alasdair for his commitment to the Scotland jersey over the past nine years," he said.
"For almost a decade he has quietly gone about his business with exceptional professionalism, with a lot of the hard work put in – often in the less glamorous and combative areas of the park – going unseen.
"We wish him all the very best in the remaining days with Perpignan where I know he's committed to doing everything he can to ensure their return to the Top 14 before finally hanging up his boots."
The international experiences of the former pupil of Claremont High School included wins against England in three successive years – 35-8 at Cardiff in the 2001 Home Unions’ U18 Tournament, 17-10 in Treviso (Italy) the 2002 FIRA/IRB World Junior Championship, and 33-22 at Newbury in the 2003 IRB U21 World Championship.
He was in Boroughmuir’s 2002/2003 Premier One league winning side and had the distinction of playing in every one of Scotland’s 21 U21 internationals in 2003 and 2004 – 10 as a lock in 2003 and 11 in the back-row.
Strokosch scored a try in the Scottish Districts’ U21 team’s 49-14 win against New Zealand Youth at Stirling in November 2003 before going on to add to his international U21 honours in the second half of the season.
His seven-a-side win against England was in a Plate semi-final in the 2005 IRB tournament in Wellington, and he added to his successes in Scotland A’s 13-7 win against England Saxons in the 2006 Barclays Churchill Cup match in Toronto, before capping off the success with the 2008 Calcutta Cup win.