In the first of our new web columns for the 2016/17 season, Scotland Women’s cap Jenny Maxwell writes for us ahead of a training camp this coming weekend:
The summer has come and gone quickly and now we are right back into the thick of things with the national team having a really important season coming up.
We have Women’s Rugby World Cup qualifiers in November and with the big event being in Ireland next year we are all really focused to make sure that we are a part of it.
We will then have the Women’s Six Nations in the new year. Last year we competed with some quality teams for long spells and there is a real momentum building behind women’s rugby in this country so we’re aiming to keep building as a squad.
There’s more support for Scotland Women players this season as the training and competition programme has increased. Additional friendly games have also been arranged with Lichfield this weekend, Wales in October and a match against another English Premiership team in January.
This weekend is going to be a really interesting one for me personally when we play English Women’s Premiership side Lichfield.
For those of you that don’t know, that is the club I play for so there has been a bit of banter at training between myself and my club mates and it will be interesting to play against so many familiar faces.
It will also be great to link-up with the Scotland girls again – there is such a good vibe in the squad right now. Over the last 12 months we have really come on as a group and everyone is working as hard so they can become better players.
When I look back on my own rugby journey, I’m so proud to have earned the honour of representing Scotland.
I took up rugby when I was really young when my granddad took me along to the local club, Leicester Forest. He had been involved at that club over the years and it was nice that I could play there too.
As things progressed I stuck with my rugby and because my dad was from Dumfries I knew that I had Scottish connections.
When I went to university at Leeds Beckett I began to look more into the Scottish route and I headed up to Edinburgh for an under-20s open trial.
Thankfully I must have impressed someone because they selected me to play for the under-20s that year and that was a good stepping stone.
I then got involved with the full sevens set-up and again that was another step-up in terms of quality.
Sevens-wise we have improved a lot since then and I think this summer we showed in patches what we can do in the Rugby Europe tournaments, while a number of younger players came into the group and did really well.
Watching the GB Women’s 7s team play at the Olympics recently was awesome too and hopefully that exposure will encourage more young girls to give rugby a try.
At this point I must pay tribute to Steph Johnston, who I played with in Scotland Women 7s and who came so close to making Rio.
She has now retired, but she is a good role model for all up and coming players, showing where hard work and determination can get you.
In terms of Scotland full XVs caps, I earned my first one away to France in 2015 and it was some experience.
I had worked so hard to get to that point and the match passed in a flash, but I knew I wanted more of it and thankfully I have been involved since then.
As well as my rugby commitments I am currently completing a masters at Leeds Beckett and although it can be tricky to balance everything, I manage to because I love my rugby so much!
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