The Newcastle Falcons back-row was capped 16 times and played for Scotland at the 2015 Rugby World Cup, helping Vern Cotter’s side reach the quarter-finals where they suffered an agonising last-gasp defeat against Australia.
He spent three seasons with Edinburgh but was suspended in 2017 as the SRU launched an investigation into a disciplinary issue. Hardie was excluded from Scotland’s autumn Test series and never played for his country again.
He left Edinburgh at the end of the 2017-18 season and went on trial at the French Top14 club Clermont. No contract was forthcoming and Hardie signed for Newcastle in October 2018 for the remainder of the season.
His performances earned him a two-year contract extension with the Falcons whose director of rugby Dean Richards paid a warm tribute to the player.
“I’d like to congratulate John on a fantastic career, and personally thank him for his contribution during his three seasons with us,” Richards said.
“He has been an outstanding professional during that period, and as well as his exploits on the field he has passed on his knowledge and contributed towards a really positive culture among the squad.
“I know I speak for everybody at Kingston Park in thanking John and wishing him well for the future, and I’m sure he’ll be a success in whichever field he chooses to go.”
Hardie, 32, was born in New Zealand but qualified for Scotland through his grandmother from Culross, Fife.
He played in New Zealand for Southland and the Highlanders, and was part of the latter’s squad which won the Super Rugby title in 2015.
He then signed for Edinburgh in 2015 and made his debut for Scotland against Italy in Turin in August 2015 in a World Cup warm-up match.
Hardie played a key role in the tournament itself and was in the starting XV in the Pool B victories over Japan and Samoa, scoring in both matches. He also started the quarter-final loss to Australia where Scotland were denied victory by Bernard Foley’s last-ditch penalty following a controversial decision by South African referee Craig Joubert.
A wholly committed openside who mixed aggression with skill, Hardie was a valuable contributor to Scotland whose international career was over all too quickly.
In his three seasons at Newcastle he made 30 appearance, the last of which came last month away to Exeter Chiefs.
“I think I could play for another year or two, but with the way the body is and the time it takes to recover between games – I just think it’s the right time to move on to a different career path,” Hardie told the Falcons website.
“It has to happen some time, so it’s better that I decide it on my own terms. I feel like I’m playing good rugby, and I just don’t want to be hanging around or holding on for too long.
“With the way I play the game you have to throw everything into it, and whereas it used to be one or two days to get over a game, now it’s pretty much the full week until it’s time to play again on the weekend.
“I won’t miss waking up feeling like roadkill on a Sunday morning, but I’ve enjoyed my career and I’ve got nothing but gratitude for what rugby has given me.
“As a rugby player you’re in such a privileged position, and I’ve had 14 years of that, so I know I’m incredibly lucky. I’ve had a lot of real highlights, starting with my local province of Southland, then Super Rugby with the Highlanders, coming over to Scotland and playing in a Rugby World Cup, and then my club rugby with Edinburgh and Newcastle Falcons.”