International Women’s Day – Scottish rugby star encourages others to give sport a try

Fri, 05 Mar 2021 16:19:00 GMT
Rachel (left) first started playing rugby during her time at GCU
Rachel (left) first started playing rugby during her time at GCU

A GCU student has opened up on her experience of playing rugby and wants to inspire other females to get involved as part of International Women’s Day.

Rachel McLachlan, who’s in her fourth year studying Physiotherapy, has been capped 16 times by Scotland since playing the sport for the first time at GCU in 2017.

She explained her journey and why it’s important not to be put off by stereotypes.

Rachel said: “I think the team aspect appealed to me initially because I’d done judo for so long – I really enjoy all contact sports. I particularly liked the fact that I could go with the other girls from Uni.

A few of us decided to properly give it a go and then it just stuck and became a big part of our lives – we were on the committee and really got involved.

There was then a partnership with West of Scotland Rugby Club, which meant I then played there. After that, I got involved with Scotland, which has just been an amazing experience.”

She added: “I honestly didn’t have many gender stereotypes in my head about rugby. My family have always been supportive and my brother used to do it when I was young - so it was never really a boy/girl thing.

I think there are wider stereotypes around male-dominated sports and women being a part of that but I wasn’t really aware of anything to do with rugby.

Stereotypes of women in sport don’t really matter because at the end of the day they’re stereotypes – that’s all they are.”

Having experienced first-hand the level of interest in women’s rugby, Rachel insists the sport is in a great place and improved dramatically in recent times.

She explained: “There’s a number of great initiatives in place, like Club Rugby and girl’s rugby which have developed massively and gained so much support. There are now huge opportunities which just weren’t available ten years ago.

Even in the time I’ve played, we now have coverage from BBC Alba – which is huge. It's great for young girls to be able to see female role models on TV and online.

It’s so lovely to see more starting to play rugby and coming along to our games. It’s really nice to hear them say that they want to play rugby for Scotland, too.”

Rachel added: “There definitely is more of an interest overall. I’ve had people coming up to me seeing they’ve saw me on the TV.
I once went to a placement and they said they’d watched the game - I was pretty shocked!”

The open side flanker is hoping the positive vibes continue around women being involved in rugby.

She said: “I would 100% encourage people to give it a go. It’s certainly one of the most inclusive sports out there and it’s just a great environment to be a part of.

I’ve met some of my best friends through rugby. There’s a place for everyone and that’s the beauty of the game – anyone can play it.”

By Ross Clark
Got an SHLS or GSBS story? Email me at or message me on Twitter