GCU plays part in student going from judo champion to rugby internationalist

Mon, 25 Nov 2019 16:19:00 GMT
Rachel only started playing rugby in 2017 and is now a regular in the Scotland team
Rachel only started playing rugby in 2017 and is now a regular in the Scotland team

A former Scottish Judo Champion is now playing rugby on the world stage – after getting her first taste of the sport here at GCU.

Third year Physiotherapy student Rachel McLachlan only decided to try rugby in September 2017 when she joined the University women’s team.

After featuring in a few friendlies, she signed up to play for West of Scotland RFC before making the move to Stirling County in 2018.

International recognition quickly followed for Rachel – receiving her first cap for Scotland Women Sevens just nine months after starting at GCU.

She was then pushed forward to the XV team and recently featured at the 2020 Women’s Six Nations Championship.

Rachel explained her delight to be playing at the highest level and her transition from judo to rugby.

She said: “I really enjoyed judo and had been competing at it for 12 years, however I was keen to try something new and GCU provided that different challenge that I’d been searching for.

Playing for your country in any capacity is incredible but to do it in the Six Nations was great because it’s so well known. We usually play at Scotstoun, so getting the chance to walk out at Murrayfield was the stuff of dreams.”

Rachel added: “It’s an indescribable feeling singing the national anthem. My parents were standing right in front of me in the crowd, so it was just amazing to be there singing ‘Flower of Scotland’ as loud as I could.”

Rachel also spoke of the importance of keeping mental and physical health in peak condition during the current times.

She explained: “University can be stressful, so it’s really important to take time out your day to do something you enjoy, whether that’s a sport or any other hobby.

Obviously gyms aren’t open, so you just need to be creative and adapt to your surroundings – I’m doing a lot of running and hill sprints just now.

Quite a few of the girls on the team are personal trainers and posting in our group chat - that’s definitely helping us keep motivated!”

Click here to find out how you could get involved in sport at GCU.

By Ross Clark
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