Speaking exclusively to SCRUM, Scotland Women international Lana Skeldon explained that she is looking to use her move to Darlington Mowden Park (DMP) Sharks to raise her game ahead of the World Cup qualifiers next year.
It’s been a long season for Lana Skeldon.
A player who usually plies her trade in the 15s game, Skeldon would normally have enjoyed some time away from the game at this time of year, but, called into the Scotland Women 7s squad, the hooker travelled to Ukraine last weekend, helping the side to secure a fifth place finish in the Rugby Europe Grand Prix.
Reflecting on the weekend and what was her first 7s cap, Skeldon told SCRUM: “It was a really great experience, completely different to 15s and what I’m used to, but it was great.
“The games themselves were a totally new challenge for me, but I really enjoyed the experience.
“It’s a very family-orientated group too, so spending time with everyone was really good.”
The weekend saw the Scots regain a place at the World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series qualifiers later this year, and notch wins over Italy, Belgium and hosts Ukraine.
The team, however, got off to what Skeldon admits was a “slow start”.
“We all agreed we were a little bit slow to start,” she said.
“Day one was a little bit below where we would have liked to have been but day two we definitely stepped it up, and put in some really good performances.
“By the end of the tournament, though, we really showed what we had to offer.
“Each year, we’re just looking to get better and better, and that seems to be what’s happening so we’re delighted with the weekend.”
Now with the last of the season’s competitive rugby behind her, Skeldon can look forward to joining her new club, the DMP Sharks, leaving her previous club Watsonians to play in the English league, the Tyrells Premier 15s.
Explaining the motivation for the move, the 34-cap international said: “Over the last 12 months, I’ve been thinking about how I can get better and how I can best prepare for going into the World Cup qualifiers next year, and increasing the standard of club rugby that I play can only help that.
“That higher competition for places, playing against more internationals in the Tyrells 15s, playing against teams like Harlequins and Saracens, is going to expose me to a higher level of rugby that will prepare me better for internationals.
“So it’s a stepping stone into a more high-performance environment.”
Indeed, while looking for a new club that would present an opportunity to develop her game, Skeldon admits that the Sharks offered the “whole package”.
“I visited Darlington, and really like the sound of what they had to offer. The whole package just seemed to fit what I was looking for,” she explained.
“There are some very experienced players down there – Tamara Taylor has over 100 caps for England, for example – so it’ll be really good to learn from them as well.
“There’s six or seven of us going down from Scotland as well so playing alongside internationalists consistently is only going to boost our performance come the Six Nations.”
What’s more, though she is aware that the Sharks “aren’t the top team in the league at the moment”, Skeldon is excited by the club’s recruitment, suggesting that they have “a real opportunity to show what [they’ve] got” next season.
But for the moment, Skeldon is enjoying some time away from rugby.
“This year the 7s has almost been my preseason,” she revealed.
“It’s been great to be involved but I now have two or three weeks before the 15s season starts to have a bit of down time, which is nice.
“I quite like to spend some time with friends, even if they are from the squad is nice to do things away from rugby – I enjoy hill walking, so often a group of us will go and climb a munro or something like that.
“It’s also good to catch up with family, and get a chance to spend a chunk of time with them.”
Image caption: Lana Skeldon in action for Scotland Women.