Celtic Challenge: Ailie grew up on a farm, but there has been nothing sheepish about her performances for Glasgow

Gary Heatly

In the recent Netflix series Six Nations: Full Contact, Ireland men’s loosehead prop Andrew Porter joked that he had learnt to play rugby by tackling sheep on a farm.

Having grown up on her family’s farm about 25 minutes from Biggar, current Glasgow Warriors’ loosehead Ailie Tucker can relate to that unique way of training and said:  “In the recent Netflix documentary Andrew Porter definitely said it best when he said that he learnt to play rugby by tackling sheep, I loved that quote and could relate to it for sure.

“We have sheep and cattle on my family farm and I have been around them all my life, so maybe wrestling with the sheep is where I got my love of rugby from!

“Seriously though, I have loved playing the game since I got involved at youth level at Biggar which is a great community club and I was hooked pretty much from my first session and have been learning and trying to be the best player I can be ever since.”

And the player that Tucker, now 24 and having won youth trophies with Biggar and senior trophies with Watsonians in Edinburgh where she has played since 2018, has become is a very good one.

Over the last couple of months she has been a standout performer for Glasgow Warriors in the Celtic Challenge and she has been testing herself at a higher level against Edinburgh and opponents from Ireland and Wales.

“When the opportunity to came up to play at this level I thought ‘maybe I’ll give it a wee try’ and I am really glad I did,” she explained.

“We may not have been winning games, but this has been such a great environment to be in and the girls gelled really quickly and we have all picked each other up after every game and got stronger.

“Working with coaches who have played and coached at this level and higher and who have so much experience has been great to learn from.

“The likes of Fraser Brown and Megan Kennedy know a few tricks of the trade when it comes to scrums, that’s for sure!

“Farming has been a big part of my life and it is still what I do outside of rugby – it is always very busy all year round. It has been challenging at times to accommodate Glasgow training, but it always has been a bit of a balance between my work and rugby over the years and I make it work and wouldn’t really have it any other way.

“I love rugby so I am quite happy to put in the hours and my family have been so supportive of the work-rugby balance over the years.

“I have played in the Premiership for a number of years now, but having the two Scottish teams in the Celtic Challenge has inspired a number of players like me to really see where their rugby can go and that is exciting.

“I feel like I have developed as a player and as a person because of this experience and I hope to take that experience back to Watsonians while, off the pitch too, the women’s game is growing so much and it’s been so good seeing a lot of young boys and girls at our games.”

Tucker has chipped if with a few Glasgow tries, but how would the former back-row describe herself as a player?

“I have always understood that a big part of my role is in the set piece and I work on that all the time, but I am also a player who wants to get my hands on the ball, I want to make metres and I want to help my team over the gain line,” she stated.

“When I get the ball I always have the mentality that I can beat the defender in front of me and help my team going forward, I have always been quite stubborn that way.

“Since I moved to Watsonians a few years ago I think my game has developed and I have created a bit of an ‘edge’ for myself and being in this Glasgow environment has just helped that even more too.”

Glasgow Warriors versus Gwalia Lightning is at the Kingspan Stadium on Saturday at 12.30pm while Wolfhounds and Clovers meet at 4.30pm with the former chasing the title – both games are on RugbyPass TV.

Thanks to Scottish Rugby/SNS for the main image of Ailie Tucker

Between January and April 2024, GH Media will be covering all aspects of women’s rugby in Scotland via reports, features and interviews…

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