Celtic Challenge: Midfield maestro McNamara took her Celtic Challenge chance by scruff of the neck

Gary Heatly

For those who watch club rugby in Scotland, Briar McNamara’s powerful runs through the midfield and neat offloads may not be a new thing, but for many Edinburgh Rugby supporters the recent Celtic Challenge competition was the first time they had seen her in action.

And they liked what they saw from the New Zealand-born playmaker who is set to qualify via residency to play for Scotland later this year.

Her offload to Emma Orr for the latter’s first try of two versus eventual champions Irish Wolfhounds was one of the highlights of the competition as the capital side finish second.

“It was a team effort in the competition,” the 27-year-old said.

“Personally, it’s great to be a part of Edinburgh Rugby. Considering we’ve never had an Edinburgh team in this competition before, it’s been great.

“At times it was difficult at times coming off night shifts [she is in the police] and things like that to then play in big games, but work have been really good with time off at the weekends to get to play, so that’s been a bonus for me.

“I’ve just really enjoyed the environment and being part of a squad that grew and grew as the Celtic Challenge went along.

“Going forward, I’d love to, and be honoured to, play for Scotland, but we’ll see how things go.”

McNamara moved from her homeland to London in 2018 and then moved up to Scotland just towards the end of 2019.

A freak ACL injury while playing for Liberton set her playing days back a bit, but she coached at that club before joining Premiership side Watsonians just before the 2021/22 season started.

With the Myreside outfit she has won trophies and captained them at times and although football was a sport that took up a lot of her time back home – she played for New Zealand at under-17 and under-20 levels – rugby has always been in her blood.

“I grew up watching rugby, my brother played and my cousins played,” she explained.

“When there was an opportunity to get involved, I took it. I was going to both [rugby and football] at the same time, but I decided that ‘actually, rugby is what I find more enjoyable than football’.

“And here we are now playing it on the other side of the world.”

Thanks to N50 Photography for the image of Briar McNamara playing – and offloading – recently for Edinburgh Rugby

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