rugby trans women in sport women in sport

Trans Women in Rugby

Before I start this article in earnest, I’d like to make one, unequivocal statement: trans women are women. Feminism, and the fight for queer people’s rights, are incomplete and one-dimensional without the inclusion of trans women, and if you disagree with this then we are fundamentally opposed, and this article may not be for you.

Whether trans women and girls should be included in women’s and girls’ rugby, and how unconditionally they should be allowed to play, is a debate that keeps returning. Most recently, it has been fuelled by France’s landmark decision to officially allow trans women to play at all levels, as long as their hormone levels are within their rules.

As well as lots of support, this decision has unearthed vitriolic transphobia that I will not link here. Over the next few paragraphs I will discuss some of the recent anti-trans arguments I have seen, and then some of the ways I believe we can help.

Many people are vehemently opposed to allowing children and teens to transition in any way. This is despite the fact that the hormones are completely reversible, and also entirely non-surgical. Basically, childhood transition just delays usual puberty until trans kids are older.

Often those who are opposed to kids transitioning at a young age are the same people who, despite how many hormones a trans woman may be taking, despite how far through her physical transition she may be, believe she cannot play women’s rugby because she has gone through ‘male’ puberty. The double standard is absurd and shows what transphobic people really want: trans people to be unable to participate in communities. Trans women, like everyone else, deserve to be a part of teams, and part of the sport we all love, and which so often claims to be inclusive to all.

It’s not just puberty that is the issue for anti-trans activists. I saw a woman state that newborn baby boys are stronger than newborn baby girls, which is simply untrue. Babies — all babies — are just adorable floppy idiots. ‘There is more variation amongst girls and boys than there is between them.’

There also seems to be a fear that trans women are going to overtake women’s rugby, that men will ‘pretend to be women’ to get to a high level, that the top of the game will be dominated by trans women, that there will be 23 in England’s match day squad. This is so unfounded it’s almost not worth mentioning.

Firstly, even the highest level of women’s rugby is poorly rewarded, and the contracts are not long. Why would a man pretend to be a woman, go through hormone treatments, work extremely hard, pretend to be someone they aren’t, and face the abuse that trans women so often do, just to get paid a wage they could earn elsewhere without all the hassle? It’s just absurd if you think about it in any depth whatsoever.

Moving on from that, it is just statistically untrue that trans women will dominate rugby. The government equalities office estimates that there are only 200,000-500,000 trans people (people, not just women) in the UK. Assuming the highest end of these numbers, that means 0.73% of the population is trans, a tiny figure.

The concerns are fearful, many of them ignorant, sexist, transphobic. Allow trans women to play without condition, then come back in 1 year, 3 years, 5, and reassess.

As pride month approaches, and as a bisexual woman myself, it is also important to note that the LGBT+ community are not welcome until we are ALL welcome. Most women’s rugby teams have lesbians and bisexual women, but without trans women, we wouldn’t have the rights we do today. Trans women are a vital part of the community and should be welcomed everywhere that other queer women are.

You may have played with or against a trans woman. You may know one who is terrified to come out. There is no way to know, and she may be a vulnerable woman who needs a community, a team of girls or women who support her like a family. That’s what rugby purports to be all about, and we can all do our bit to make it kinder and more inclusive for the trans women among us.


Pride month is coming! Donate to Stonewall UK, Mermaids, or the Albert Kennedy Trust.

Read about what’s happening in Palestine, and donate to Palestinians in need.

On 6th of May, refugees got to vote for the first time in Scotland. Weep with me about following days: the evilness of the attempted eviction in Glasgow, and the response that defines community. Read, too, about the No Evictions Network.

I am enough rugby scotland Scotland Women Six Nations sport Uncategorized women in sport

Is Rugby Right for You?

My old team at Strathclyde Uni, having a blast as always

Ladies, there has never been a better time to start rugby. If you’ve ever thought about it, try to find your local team. You can send them an email or message with any questions you have, and I’m sure you’ll be welcomed with open (but distant!) arms. All you need is sports kit and a water bottle – boots, gumshields and the rest can all come later.

The easing of lockdown restrictions means many teams are just restarting, so everyone will be rusty and also giddy with joy about seeing other real-life human beings. Due to these restrictions, also, one of the main concerns of new players is eased: contact. For the foreseeable future, the focus will be on passing, catching, and running around learning how to do the positions and where to stand.

The women’s Six Nations also started last week. If you missed the men’s Six Nations, want to watch some more international rugby, or have never really watched women’s rugby, the games are all available live on BBC iPlayer. Watching women at the top of their game is so inspiring, and with the new women’s global league upcoming, the fight for third place is meaningful and very exciting (c’mon, Scotland!). Have a watch, get inspired, and then get out there and play!

To be very sincere for a moment: rugby has changed my life. I’ve played since I was about 14, but know women who started as tiny kids, or in their forties. We’ve all had a different rugby journey, but the common elements are new friends, increased fitness, and a confidence that I can’t imagine finding without rugby.

If you don’t know where to start, I’ve created and collated some resources. Have a look at Scottish Rugby’s club finder to find out which club is close to you. I made a fun wee quiz to see what position would suit you best, and typed up a Google Doc with simple information about different positions and set pieces.

So there you have it: arm yourself with some knowledge and a bottle of water, and you could be on your way to the best thing in your life.


Fill in this survey to speak out against the transphobic & misogynistic rules proposed by the RFU, giving completely arbitrary height and weight restrictions to transgender women. The survey isn’t great, but there is a space for your own words at the end.

Vote for your try of the week in the Women’s Six Nations.

Women’s fantasy rugby is here! If you haven’t watched a lot, have a peek at journalist Jess Hayden’s suggested XV. If you have any interest in women’s rugby, she’s definitely worth following on Twitter, too!

doddie weir edinburgh glasgow rugby scotland Uncategorized


Doddie Weir, former international for Scotland and the Lions, was diagnosed with Motor Neuron Disease four years ago. In this time, he has campaigned as ferociously as he once played, and in doing so has ignited the rugby community in the fight against MND.

From the first of January, until the Calcutta Cup in 12 days, folks from all over Scotland and beyond have participated in DoddieAid: an inter-district challenge to complete as many miles and raise as much money as possible. So far, over £700k has been raised for MND research.

My rugby team in Dundee are participating (obviously for the winning district!) and all of us have found personal benefits to the challenge as well as the obvious feel-good factor in donating to charity. I think it’s safe to say all of us were struggling to get outside enough in yet another lockdown, and it’s been a godsend for making us rack up the miles. It forces us out for a walk, run, or cycle, and I for one invariably feel far less grumpy at the end of this than the beginning. The team dynamic of encouraging one another on also means the world at a time when we can’t train or play together.

The Dundee Valkyries are among star-studded company in doing the challenge: while we are opposing Gerard Butler, we do have Ewen McGregor on the North and Midlands team (incidentally, while I enjoy a lot of McGregor’s roles, I may be the only person who thinks of him as yer man from Moulin Rouge, rather than Obi Wan Kenobi).

Excitingly, there has recently been a breakthrough in MND research, but the task of finding a cure is not over yet. If you want to help out, you can sign up for DoddieAid (and get a tartan snood!), or donate here.

In honour of just 12 days until the Calcutta Cup, I’ll leave you with highlights of perhaps my favourite rugby match I’ve ever seen, and some links to other things you might enjoy.

‘maybe this year will be better than the last:’ for fortnightly bursts of joy, subscribe to my friend Lauren Thurman’s TinyLetter here.

Have a look at my rugby team’s upcoming Discovery Challenge, in which we’ll walk/run/cycle/row/cartwheel roughly 200 miles each to raise money for the club and Togs for Tots.

If you missed my last post, In Defence of Mediocrity, go and rejoice in my entirely flat banana bread (and perhaps some deeper thoughts).

I am enough muay thai rugby scotland sport women in sport

In Defence of Mediocrity

I’m not a great – or even good – rugby player.

Dear friends, you can keep lying to me about this, but I’ve accepted it. At times, I’ve trained really hard, and (shockingly!) improved, but often it’s not a top priority in my life and I get worse again. Sometimes work or university feels more important than training; sometimes it’s grabbing a pint with my pals. It can be frustrating knowing that I could be better, but I will never be great, and that doesn’t mean I love the sport any less.

As I like to remind everyone, I also did Muay Thai for a couple of years. What I mention less is that I burst into tears the first time I was punched in the face, and I never actually did a fight. However, I got a bit fitter, had some utterly ridiculous nights out, and met my lovely boyfriend. Being a bit crap at the actual sport didn’t prevent any of these joyful things!

(As a side note, I’d like to share the first lesson I was taught at training: if someone tries to fight you in the street, turn and run away as fast as you can.)

I’m definitely not a natural athlete, but something I’m pretty sure I am good at is writing poems. That said, if I don’t give myself permission to write shitty poems too, then what on earth is the point? Some of my favourite things to write are scrawled acrostic poems in my friends’ birthday cards. These will never be published, or lead to an intellectual breakthough, but it’s a simple, silly act of love, regardless of poetry skills or experience.

During lockdown, struggling with a slightly different world, I’ve enjoyed more everyday mediocrity than ever. My dad and I cried with laughter at the banana bread I made (how did it look like the bottom of a shoe?), I belt out the Hamilton soundtrack with vocals that would bring Broadway fans to tears, and I make up cheesy love songs on the fly. Very, very slowly, I’m realising I don’t have to be good at things to enjoy them.

The ugliest banana bread in history?

If there’s something you want to try, now or when the world is calmer, then what do you have to lose? Maybe you’ll end up the next Emily Scarratt, Ronda Rousey or Carol Ann Duffy. Perhaps, like me, you’ll meet the love of your life, or maybe you’ll warm the bench, make friends, and have some fucking fun.

rugby scotland Scotland Women Six Nations women in sport

Scotland Women: My Starting XV vs France

This is the month the Six Nations returns! Scotland women will host France the weekend of October 24th, and I’m too excited to wait until nearer the time to pick my team.

If you haven’t yet read my last Women’s Six Nations post, have a look here for a summary of the tournament so far, and predictions for Scotland’s next three games.

  1. Lisa Cockburn. Leah Bartlett definitely gets a mention here, as one try in only 3 appearances is very impressive for a front row, but a solid scrum is needed against a team like France, so experience wins out.
  2. Lana Skeldon. Find me another hooker that has 28 points from 39 caps and I’ll be a happy woman. Skeldon’s experience, and unexpected kicking ability, gives her an edge over the very exciting Molly Wright, who, like Leah Bartlett, has a try in just 3 caps.
  3. Megan Kennedy. Kennedy has been so unlucky with injuries not to add further to her 15 caps. She’s an absolute warrior. Mairi Forsyth has also been on cracking form, but Megan Kennedy’s unbreakable spirit clinches this one for me.
  4. Emma Wassell. She debuted in the first Six Nations match of 2014 and has played every single game since then. I can’t argue with that, and wouldn’t want to: Wassell is solid in the set piece and a great player in the loose, too.
  5. Nicola Howat. While Howat isn’t as consistent a defender as other players like Sarah Bonar, she’s a leggy, speedy attacker. Against a team like France, it’s worth giving her a run around.
  6. Rachel Malcolm. I’d have Malcolm continuing her captaincy, as she seems to help the team maintain a cool head, which is something Scotland sometimes lacks.
  7. Rachel McLachlan. Such an exciting young player, who makes an absolute nuisance of herself. There’s nobody I’ve hated playing against more. Panashe Muzambe is also great and is unlucky with how great McLachlan’s form has been.
  8. Jade Konkel. At this moment in time, there’s not really a debate. Jade’s the team’s only specialist number 8 listed on the SRU website, and she puts her body and heart on the line for every game.
  9. Jenny Maxwell. Mairi McDonald definitely proved her worth while Maxwell was injured, but for a game that could be as close as the one against Italy, the experience wins out.
  10. Helen Nelson. She proved her leadership ability captaining Scotland 7s, and her skills are undeniable. GB 7s.
  11. Rhona Lloyd. If you’ve ever seen Lloyd get an inch of space on the wing, you’ll know she’s what Scotland needs. Her strength and pace are so exciting. GB 7s. Abi Evans gets a shout here, too.
  12.  Lisa Thomson. More leadership ability in the 10-12 axis from the former captain. Her ability to play 10 gives her a versatile edge.
  13. Hannah Smith. GB 7s. While Smith sometimes attacks solo when a pass is wanted, it’s great to see a Scotland player who wants to get over the try-line, and with a great fringe too.
  14. Megan Gaffney. Gb 7 s. Gaffney is deeply experienced, but also an absolute firecracker. It’s exciting to see what her new club, the National 1 Heriots, will get up to with her on the wing.
  15. Chloe Rollie. Who else? She’s electrifying in attack and fairly solid in defence. Scotland could definitely do with more depth at fullback, but if Rollie continues her great form, anyone else would struggle to get a start here.

Feel free to argue (kindly!) or agree with any of my choices, and keep an eye out for the rest of my match reports and predictions.

I am enough rugby scotland Scotland Women sport Uncategorized women in sport


In case you haven’t seen the latest women’s rugby controversy, let me catch you up. Canterbury and Ireland released the men’s and women’s strips: the male models were Conor Murray, Bundee Aki and Robbie Henshaw; the female models were… models. Beautiful women, yes, but the implication (sometimes outright stated) was that female rugby players are not beautiful enough, strong enough, inspirational enough.

The message from female rugby players has been strong and conclusive: we are enough, and we have had enough.

Lots of women’s rugby players are incredibly beautiful, in many different ways. But do you know what? Some of us don’t fit standards of beauty, and that shouldn’t matter either. A cauliflower ear, broken nose, or some lumps and bumps would never stop men modelling the kit that’s made for them, and it should never stop women either.

In only a few days, the movement has inspired a big change: Canterbury has committed to using rugby players for all their female kit launches from now on. In these dark times, small progress should be celebrated.

There are so many female rugby players I look up to, regardless of how good looking they are. My friends, my idols, women who dedicate their lives to rugby and might never see a penny from it, no matter how high a level they attain. If you feel like being inspired, too, here are five wonderful women who are every bit as impressive as Stuart Hogg.

Florence Williams. This is the lady that started the movement, so naturally she had to be on my list. She plays for Wasps, and is the founder of Perception Agency, which aims to change the way we see women’s sports.

Rhona Lloyd. The Scotland winger seems to get bigger biceps and even more badass every time she posts on Instagram. A great example of a beautiful woman whose talent and heart are far more important than the way she looks. Check out her ‘Women Who Sport’ podcast.

Jade Konkel. You should have heard of Jade, Scotland’s first female full-time rugby player. Her Instagram is packed with training pictures and inspirational quotes, and if you’re a soppy romantic like me, you’ll love her engagement story.

Heather Fisher. An England and GB7s player (a World Cup winner and an Olympian!) who has been vocal about her past struggles with anorexia, and her ongoing alopecia. Her values are ‘work hard, be brave, believe in yourself,’ which I think we can agree are the words of a role model.

Panashe Muzambe. Panashe is still young, only 24, and is in the early stages of her career. However, being the first Black woman to play for Scotland is already incredible, and I’m sure there’s a lot more to come. She has a podcast which talks about ‘life experiences, black/minority culture, relationships, TV, music and so much more.’

Two teams posts about the #IAmEnough movement also caught my eye. Saracens are using their big name to show other teams how kit launches should be done, and have a look at Hamilton Ladies for a local team who always have something to say for women.

Let me know which women inspire you, and always remember: women are enough, we’ve had enough, and we will come for you.

edinburgh glasgow match report pro 14 rugby scotland sport Uncategorized

Men’s Rugby: Glasgow Warriors vs Edinburgh Rugby

Pint in hand, joy in my eyes and radio Scotland playing commentary in my ears
Pint in my hand, joy in my heart & radio Scotland playing commentary in my ear

Friday: Edinburgh 3-15 Glasgow

I enjoyed this game a lot more than last week’s, despite the rather more boring scoreline, It was by no means a classic, but Glasgow’s two tries (and two almost-tries) had my heart racing, and the team seemed far more comfortable on the pitch. This could be down to Glasgow’s largely similar team choice.

Edinburgh, however, had a vastly different starting XV. While this didn’t work on the day, it could pay off when they have a wider choice of match-fit players for their semi-finals, but could also be a confidence crusher against Munster: Edinburgh didn’t look like a team that would be winning anything. If they want a chance against Munster, they’ll have to bring their energy from the last 20 minutes of last Saturday’s game.

It was exciting to have a very tiny crowd back watching live, but let’s be honest: the only name on everyone’s lips is Fraser Brown. On his 100th appearance for Glasgow, he captained them, scored a try, and got Man of the Match. From about 15 minutes in I was sure he was destined for this accolade: his try gave Glasgow the momentum to maintain a lead, and the way he put his body on the line in attack was majestic, a word rarely used to describe front rows. Stuart McInally might be very nervous for Scotland selection after Brown’s outing this weekend.

Huw Jones had another decent game at fullback, if we ignore his desperate seatbelt tackle. While he was in the sin bin, I kept waiting for Edinburgh to score, but they only came out of the ten minute advantage with three points. Glasgow will have taken confidence from not conceding anything worse than a penalty.

It was just a game of pride, but that’s something Glasgow definitely regained on Friday night. They successfully maintained their lead and were determined to get the win that they came out with. After a false start last week, a good end to the season for Glasgow. Hopefully as the next season progresses, we can aim for something like normality: live rugby, I miss you.

Last Week: Glasgow 15-30 Edinburgh

Last Saturday’s game was one of sloppy handling, poor discipline, and halfhearted fisticuffs. There was some exciting rugby from Glasgow in the first half, but that dwindled later on to give Edinburgh the well-deserved win.

Despite this being the Warriors’ “home” game, BT Murrayfield is not their friend: their last win in Edinburgh was way back in 2016 and although they had shining moments, Saturday never really seemed like it was going to be the day for a win in the capital.

Huw Jones was a surprising bright spark after his rogue choice at fullback, although of course not as remarkable as Stuart Hogg might have been. Pete Horne looked decent at centre too, and Ratu Tagive had a fairly good game on the wing.

I was also happy to see Richie Gray back in Warriors’ colours – particularly as charge-downs are one of my favourite rugby moments – but I missed his brother’s tackling. Hopefully at Exeter Jonny will finesse his attacking (which would surely make him a top pick for the Lions. But I digress…).

The Teams: I’ve put last week’s choices in brackets for both teams.



1. Oli Kebble 2. Fraser Brown (C) 3. Zander Fagerson 4. Rob Harley (Richie Gray) 5. Scott Cummings 6. Ryan Wilson (Rob Harley) 7. Tom Gordon (Matt Fagerson) 8. Matt Fagerson (Ryan Wilson)


9. George Horne (Ali Price) 10. Adam Hastings 11. Ratu Tagive 12. Stafford McDowall (Pete Horne) 13. Nick Grigg 14. Tommy Seymour 15. Huw Jones


16. George Turner 17. Charlie Capps (Dylan Evans) 18. Enrique Pieretto (D’arcy Rae) 19. Rob Harley (Kiran McDonald) 20. Chris Fusaro (Tom Gordon) 21. Ali Price (George Horne) 22. Pete Horne (Niko Matawalu) 23. Robbie Nairn (Glenn Bryce)



1. Pierre Shoeman (Rory Sutherland) 2. Mike Willemse (Stuart McInally, C) 3. Simon Berghan (WP Nel) 4. Nick Haining (Andrew Davidson) 5. Jamie Hodgson (Grant Gilchrist) 6. Magnus Bradbury (Luke Crosbie) 7. Hamish Watson 8. Viliame Mata


9. Charlie Shiel (Nic Groom) 10. Nathan Chamberlain (Jaco van der Walt) 11. Duhan van der Merwe 12. Chris Dean (C) 13. James Johnstone (Mark Bennet) 14. Darcy Graham (Eroni Sau) 15. Blair Kinghorn


16. Stuart McInally (Mike Willemse) 17. Rory Sutherland (Pierre Schoeman) 18. WP Nel (Simon Berghan) 19. Marshall Sykes (Jamie Hodgson) 20. Luke Crosbie (Nick Haining) 21. Roon Frostwick (Charlie Shiel) 22. Jaco van der Walt (Nathan Chamberlain) 23. Matt Gordon

poem rugby women in sport

Game Day

Game day

Thanks to friends and teammates for your ideas!

When you get your hair pleated, eye-burstingly tight,

your pulse pounding to changing room tunes.


When your shorn nails pant through the warm up,

and you realise the whole game is still to play.


When you nerve and breathe and need to pee the moments

before kick-off, praying the ball won’t come to you,


too scared you’ll drop it. When the first tackle splats

you in the icy mud, and you’re shocked and nearly


too lazy to get up, but your fly-half ships

the ball out, and the winger makes a break,


punts it to the try-line, opposition falling

at her ankles as she scores.


When there’s a knock-on and your pack

prowls to the scrum, growling we’ve got this.  


When your hair tie’s slowly coming loose,

fringe creeping over eyes, until


halftime: orange slices, breathing hard,

told off and encouraged and it all begins again.


In the lineout, when codes are shouted to confuse

but the hands holding you up are strong


and certain. Everything goes right. When the ball

smacks your palm, then off to your scrumhalf.


When a girl runs at you, ball in hand, and

you slo-mo see that she’s stepped you a belter –


you land face first in the dirt, mortified,

until your teammate halves them:


you thank fuck for which team you’re on.

When, knackered, you think it must be close


to done, but the ref says that’s us ten minutes in

When, determined to make up for a missed tackle,


you hit hard, in sync with your teammate,

who shoots you a gumshieldy grin.


When suddenly the game is almost over.

When your team is ruler straight on your own

ten metre line, having slugged a scrappy match –

every single one of you defends your tits off.


The hugs and handshakes, team photos.

When you clack clods of dirt from your boots

before the changing rooms. When your waning

adrenaline brings you to tears on the toilet.


When you peel off a damp bra, listening to Lizzo,

scrubbing at your muddy icy skin in a beautiful


hot shower. When, win or lose, you sing and booze.

When your team’s so close they help you write a poem.

rugby scotland Scotland Women Six Nations sport women in sport

Scotland Women: Six Nations Predictions

Rugby is coming back!

The women’s Six Nations was disrupted by combinations of coronavirus, Storm Ciara, and more coronavirus. While the men’s tournament was almost completed, Scotland’s women could only play two games: an 18-14 heartbreak against Ireland, and a 53-0 thrashing by England.

Two losses from two might not seem encouraging, but let’s look at the facts: Scotland seems to have improved their defence from last year’s 80-0 clobbering from England, and the team have already equalled their one losing bonus point from 2019’s tournament, with three games yet to play. Things are looking up!

This year, Wales are below Scotland on points difference, with two fewer games left in play, having beaten Scotland by only two excruciating points in their meeting last year. It seems hopeful, then, that our women will avoid the wooden spoon in 2020. Scotland’s close run loss to Ireland, who beat Wales 31-12, also suggests that Wales are definitely beatable this winter.

However, they’ve got France to contend with first, a professional team who mirror the talent and wildness of their male counterparts. In the Women’s Six Nations, only England can currently measure up, having recorded a 19-13 win in February. The Scottish ladies are definitely improving, but against France all they can hope for this year is some points on the board. Doyle might think it’s worth testing some exciting new players against this colossus of a French team. Prediction: Scotland 10-40 France.

After their agonising loss last year, Scotland will have a point to prove against Wales, and will have the bonus of more match-fitness after their outing against France, while the Welsh team might be fresher. It could be a brutal match, but I think it’s one that Scotland will edge out, with the team sheet depending on form from the previous game, but definitely edging towards experience. Prediction: Wales 14-19 Scotland.

Italy, another team formed mostly of amateur players, is a win to aim for: Scotland, at their best, could overpower them, but until we’ve seen their form against France and Wales, it’s hard to know how they’ll measure up. Against Italy, especially away from home, I’d suggest Head Coach Philip Doyle will go for experienced players who can keep a cool head, but will it be enough? Prediction: Italy 12-12 Scotland.

Let me know your predictions in the comments, and keep an eye out for my next Scotland women’s rugby post, where I’ll give my suggested Scotland starting XV against France.