Scotland v Colombia: “80 minutes to show that it’s our time,” says firefighter Jade who is ready to bring the heat and complete the jigsaw

By Gary Heatly

Jade Konkel has never been someone who does things half-heartedly – and she will be giving everything she has got to make sure that Scotland realise their World Cup dream on Friday.

The Scots are just one game away from the showpiece event in New Zealand in October and November and, having missed out on the 2014 and 2017 tournaments in her career, the 28-year-old No.8 does not want to feel that pain for a third time.

In Dubai, Colombia, 26th in the world, stand between ninth placed Scotland and the promised land and, if Bryan Easson’s charges are to be victorious, then you can guarantee 48-cap Jade will be at the forefront of things in a few days time.

Remember this is the player who used to drive all the way from the Black Isle up north every week as an up-and-coming talent to Glasgow to play club rugby for Hillhead/Jordanhill.

She earned her first full cap aged 19 in 2013, became Scotland’s first full-time female player a few years ago and has since taken herself out of her comfort zone by playing at the top level in France and England.

This time last year she also took the decision to step back from rugby for three months to train as a firefighter with the London Fire Brigade.

As a result, the Harlequins player is not scared of a challenge and, ahead of this big game, she has been thinking about the last nine years and her journey with the national team.

“To complete a jigsaw, it’s all the small pieces that make the big picture,” she said on social media.

“It’s not just for us present in Dubai for the final match. It’s for every single player who has played with the thistle on their chest, past and present, and for every person who has helped get us to this point.

“Years and years of getting knocked down but getting back up and going again, growing and learning each time.

“The dream is still alive. Now there are just 80 minutes left between us and a spot at the World Cup in New Zealand, 80 minutes where we will need to fight for every single second and every single inch.

“80 minutes to show that it’s our time – and we are ready.”

The coaching staff could do worse than put those words up on the dressing room wall come Friday and, looking back on the last 12 months, Jade adds:  “Well Covid has affected us all and I wasn’t getting any younger, so I thought I had to start looking at things beyond rugby, you know you have got to have a stable career afterwards because you retire at a relatively young age in comparison to a normal worker life.

“So, I went and got qualified as a firefighter so I could have a full-time role outside of rugby and I think, if anything, it has made my rugby better, it has allowed me that balance and split and given me a peace of mind.

“I was away for three months, but those three months passed super quickly. I missed the Six Nations, but I was behind the squad all of the time, kept up with everything and still made sure that I could keep up to speed with the analysis so that I wasn’t missing anything.

“It was good to get set with my firefighting and then come back in fresh minded and excited to get going – now it’s time to complete the job.”

The Scotland versus Columbia final World Cup qualifier (kick-off 7pm local time, 3pm UK time) will be live on BBC ALBA and World Rugby’s YouTube channel on Friday, February 25

 Jade Konkel is pictured in her firefighting uniform