AIMING to ensure that international rugby is taken around the country as much as possible, Stirling County host Saturday’s RBS Six Nations women’s international when Scotland meet their French counterparts at Bridgehaugh.
The venue may be a first but, for flanker Lindsay Wheeler, the French international marks her 50th outing in the international jersey.
Wheeler grew up in Corrie on the isle of Arran – perhaps not viewed as a traditional rugby-playing part of the country – where, along with her peers at Arran High School, she took up the game.
“In my school, the fifth and sixth year girls were really keen on starting a rugby team so we got some of the boys to start coaching us. Then we had a coach for a while, who didn’t really believe we wanted to play, lined us all up on the try line and told us to dive on the ground – so we all did. We were really enthusiastic.”
Continuing to study in Edinburgh –she’s now a physiotherapist, working at Homerton University Hospital in north London – she played for the University women’s team and went on to win her first cap in Sweden against the home nation.
“It was a five-day camp and we played on the last day, I was really shocked to be in the squad and I started in the second row and scored a try! It was a really good experience for me and a great introduction to international rugby.”
With 49 caps-worth of highlights to consider, what would Lindsay rank as up there with the top memories?
“Probably the win against France two years ago at home [Scotland won 10-8 at Lasswade]. France is a team that you rarely come close to beating so that was a real high point.”
Lindsay and her team mates have a chance to repeat that performance against France on Sunday in what, despite improving performances, would be Scotland’s first win of the championship after defeats to England and Wales earlier this month.
“There were positives to take from the game against Wales – in the second half our shape improved dramatically, we covered the pitch well and just gave away that one try at the start. The scrum improved and we definitely had a better performance at the lineout – that was something missing from the England game and something we can build on.”
Entry to the match is free.