Interview: Budding journalist Coreen writing exciting story for herself on and off the pitch

By Gary Heatly

In her spare time Coreen Grant likes nothing better than to take a step back and take in the natural world around her.

However, on the rugby field there have been no steps back and she has been very much on the front foot since returning from the World Cup.

The back three player, who turned 25 in January, has been performing consistently well for Saracens in the Allianz Premier 15s – and has bagged a few tries too – in recent months.

At time of writing, Sarries are third in the table and fellow Scotland caps Jodie Rettie and Louise McMillan are also regulars in the matchday 23, while fellow internationalist Abi Evans is also at the club.

While the Guinness Six Nations is now two rounds in, the TikTok Women’s Six Nations does not begin until March 25 and one would think Coreen will certainly be in the mix for Scotland’s matchday 23 versus England in the opener, if her form continues.

She has been in and around the Scotland squad since 2020 and was at the aforementioned World Cup in New Zealand late last year. She was also one of 28 players awarded a professional contract in December, but she has just one cap to her name so far.

It came off the bench against Italy in 2021, and Coreen has had to be patient.

“Getting into the squad for a matchday with Scotland has been really competitive in recent years, and that is a hugely positive thing overall. The squad has real depth,” she said.

“I have been around the squad a while now, so I’ve been able to learn from the more experienced players with Scotland and Sarries. Getting exposure regularly at a high level is key for me to keep improving.

“Playing down here with Saracens is ideal for that, and it is really helping me take my game forward. Hopefully that will continue and I’ll be able to put my hand up for a Scotland spot.

“The Scottish Rugby contract has also been a massive help because it means I have more time to train, focus on my skills, recover properly and just balance all my commitments that bit better.

“I’m feeling in a good headspace on and off the pitch right now.”

Coreen’s rugby journey

Having grown up in Edinburgh and first played rugby at the Royal High School aged 11, Coreen’s family then moved to Los Angeles for three years, where she tried out American football. On her return to Scotland, Coreen joined Murrayfield Wanderers and has never looked back.

She played for their impressive youth teams before moving to Durham University to study English. She captained the university side at Durham, before heading to Cambridge University to study for a master’s degree in environmental humanities.

Coreen also squeezed in a year abroad in Melbourne during her undergraduate degree. She played at Twickenham with both British university teams and scored an amazing try to win the Varsity Match for Cambridge against Oxford during her postgraduate year.

That was in late 2019 and, since that 2019/20 season, she has been linked with Saracens.

After her debut Scotland cap in 2021, cap number two was set to come in Cardiff last year versus Wales, but a positive Covid test got in the way.

Dipping the toe into journalism: “It stretches my brain and compliments my rugby”

Coreen is currently balancing her commitments well, so what does she do off the pitch?

Right now, she works as an environmental journalist for a nature and conservation magazine, but it wasn’t a straightforward route from university. After graduating, Coreen first joined the British Antarctic Survey to work in their Polar Operations team.

She explained: “As a master’s student at Cambridge you are able to attend any lectures you want, so I started going to undergraduate zoology lectures out of personal interest [in 2019/20].

“One of the visiting professors worked at the British Antarctic Survey [BAS] and it seemed like a fascinating workplace, so when I saw a role come up, I applied. I ended up working for them for just over a year.

“I was in charge of Antarctic travel, so essentially it was my job to work out the logistics for getting all of the BAS scientists and support crew from the UK to Antarctica. “It was a really interesting job and I got to meet some fantastic people. I look back on it with lots of fond memories.

“While I was working there it was pretty full-on, because I had also started doing freelance journalism in the background. I knew that journalism was something I was interested in doing long term, while also pursuing my rugby.

“I had been following a couple of environmental journalists on social media, and because it is quite a small community, I was able to make contact and things went from there. “I now write the weekly newsletter for Inkcap Journal, which is a magazine focussing on longform journalism on nature and conservation in Britain.

“I really enjoy my writing, and it is something I want to take forward alongside my rugby. It stretches my brain, and I find it actually compliments my training to have something outwith rugby to immerse myself in for a couple of days each week.”

Coreen also worked as a BBC Young Climate Reporter in 2021, when she produced a radio feature on green jobs in Scotland, and how young people are looking to get into more climate-friendly careers.

Outside interests: “Just getting moving and taking in the fresh air is great”

Alongside her rugby and journalism, Coreen gets out into the fresh air whenever possible and enjoys hiking.

“I love the countryside and being outdoors, and get out whenever I can,” she said.

“My Grandpa climbed all of the Munros, so that’s probably where my love of hiking came from. When my family and I were in the States, we covered off lots of the American national parks too.

“There is lots of research showing that being outside in green space can help your mental health, so I always try to fit that in, even if it is just a recovery walk the day after a game.

“Just getting moving and taking in the fresh air is great for my headspace.

“After the World Cup last year, I was able to explore New Zealand for a couple of weeks. The whole country is amazing – you can walk anywhere and find incredible views – so that time was really great just to switch off. New Zealand is like a hiker’s playground!

“I’ve also enjoyed Norway in the past, and have a bucket list of places I want to go, but Scotland is a stunning country and I love to get out and about with my family, friends and dog when I’m home.”

Keep an eye out for lots of Scottish women’s rugby content on this site over the next few months…

Thanks to Coreen herself and Matt Impey for the photos featured here