Six Nations: “She is a star, I have never met anyone as hard working and determined as her” – Lana Skeldon hits 50 caps

By Gary Heatly

Just before the TikTok Women’s Six Nations got underway in March Lana Skeldon got a new tattoo.

It is of a feather which signifies that people that have passed away will always be near and, in a way, that loving thought and gesture just typifies Lana’s attitude and why she is so well respected in the Scottish rugby community and beyond.

You see, it has never been about her, everything she does on and off the pitch is for her family, for her friends, for her team mates and for her country.

She sees the wider picture and the 28-year-old Worcester Warriors’ hooker knows that if she does her job in the set piece and around the pitch week after week for club and country then it will contribute to something bigger.

Lana is the ultimate team player, you only have to speak to her team mates and coaches to realise that, Scotland head coach Bryan Easson saying “she is a massive part of everything we do”.

On Saturday, Lana will win her 50th Scotland cap, a milestone moment for her and one which started way back in 2011 when she was capped as a teenager against the Netherlands.

Cap number two did not come until 2014, but over the last seven and a bit years she has been a regular member of Scotland matchday 23s – and you get the feeling with a World Cup on the horizon she is only scratching the surface in terms of how good she can be.

Ahead of the half century coming in the Cardiff Arms Park versus Wales in a Six Nations round two match, let’s here from some of the people who know Lana best.

“I am so proud of everything that she has done”

When Lana was just four she was taken down to Mansfield Park in her beloved hometown of Hawick because her mum Annie Skeldon was playing for the Hawick Ladies team.

Her love of the sport began then and all of the players in that team used to look after her and pass her a ball on the sidelines, Sammy Lee – who along with Ruth Begbie and Louise Dalgliesh went on to play for Scotland from that squad – saying “we used to joke that wee Lana would one day play for Scotland”.

It might have been a joke at the time, but it has come true and some and it is fitting that recently the six female players with Hawick connections had their photos up in the Mansfield Park clubrooms.

Sammy, Ruth, Louise and Lana are joined on the ‘wall of fame’ by Nicola Nightingale and current centre Lisa Thomson.

 “I loved playing for Hawick Ladies and Lana used to come with me, so rugby was in her blood from early on,” mum Annie said.

“There is also a picture of her at nursery wearing an All Blacks strip – complete with gumshield! – so I guess it was destined to be the sport for her, especially being from Hawick.

“She went along to Jed-Forest Minis and played at Wilton Primary School while we used to go and watch the men’s Border Reivers matches and she just couldn’t get enough of rugby.

“Mike Bleasdale, who is sadly no longer with us, allowed her to watch the older girls train at Melrose so that she could learn and then she played for Langholm and Gala as she got into her teenage years.

“When she left Hawick High School she was a modern apprentice with Scottish Rugby and since then it has been rugby, rugby, rugby – it is just engrained in her.”

In senior rugby she has played for Melrose, Hillhead/Jordanhill, Watsonians and Darlington Mowden Park Sharks and she now represents Worcester Warriors in the English Premier 15s

“I am so proud of everything that she has done, it has not been easy and there have been many bumps in the road, but she is so focused and driven and such a selfless team player that she deserves to get to 50 caps,” Annie adds.


“She is an inspiration on the rugby field – and a great person off it”

 Whilst playing for Scotland Lana got to know team mate Megan Kennedy well and they are now partners.

Megan, who came through the ranks at Stirling County and won 18 caps as a prop between 2018 and 2021 before sadly having to retire on medical grounds, is now the team’s biggest fan and loves watching Lana play.

“I was involved in the Scotland squad at first in around 2016 before I hurt my knee, so I knew Lana a bit from that time,” Megan recounts.

“When I re-joined the squad  on a more permanent basis a couple of years later my abiding memory is just how welcoming Lana was to myself and other new faces such as my great friend Siobhan Cattigan who has sadly since passed away.

“As new players coming into an international environment it can be quite daunting, but Lana and other senior players were so good with us, put us at ease and made us feel part of things.

“I know new players who have joined the squad in recent months have said the same thing and I think with Lana it comes easy to her because she is just such a genuine person who wants everyone to be ok and wants what is best for the team.”

According to Megan, one thing Lana is also keen on is prompt timekeeping.

“She will always aim to be early for things, that is for sure,” Megan joked.

“I think, in rugby terms anyway, that just shows that she wants everything to go to plan and she will put in the hard work to get that outcome.

“She is an inspiration on the rugby field, the way she plays with her heart and always gives 100 percent was something I tried to replicate when I was playing and she always tries to get the team on the front foot.

“And, of course, she is a great person off the pitch, we enjoy each other’s company and although we often talk about rugby because we both love it, we do switch off and she is just a brilliant person to be around.

“It will be amazing to see her getting her 50th cap.”

“She is always looking to improve which is the sign of a top class player”

When Lana used to go along to watch the older girls play at Melrose someone that was in the squad at the time was Nicola Nightingale.

“Being from Hawick too and both just really liking rugby, we became really good pals early on even though I am a few years older,” ex-Scotland player Nicola, who played in the same Sarah Beaney Cup winning team as Lana for Watsonians in 2018/19, explains.

“She is a star, I have never met anyone as hard working and determined as her.

“Like everyone in sport she has had to deal with highs and lows, but she stays calm and always remains focused on the next job.

“And she is always looking to improve which is the sign of a top class player. She will always analysis her performances and can be quite hard on herself at times, but that is just because of the type of person she is and her drive towards excellence.

“She will always WhatsApp me after matches and ask for my feedback on her performances and, because we have known each other so long, I can always be honest with her.

“In the last two games against Colombia and England she was excellent and not many players make it to 50 caps, so that determination pretty much sums her up.”

Although Lana is a hooker, she has been known to kick for club and country over the years.

“I taught her everything she knows about kicking…,” Nightingale, who used to play stand-off or full-back and was a very good kicker, insists tongue (partially!) in cheek.

“She is someone who has always epitomised the effort and commitment it takes to represent her country”

Earlier it was mentioned that Lana is one of six players with Hawick connections to have played for Scotland.

And they are all immensely proud of her journey, Sammy Lee saying:  “I’m super proud of the player and the person she has became as well as all of her achievements.”

Ruth Begbie said:  “I have had the privilege of knowing Lana since she was just a wee toot when I played rugby with Ann. I have witnessed her never wavering determination to succeed in her rugby career and to see her achieve her 50th cap for Scotland is something special.

“We are so immensely proud of her and blessed to part of her ‘family’. My wee Phoebe will be roaring at the TV!”

Louise Dalgliesh adds:  “Having known Lana since I played alongside her mum Ann for Hawick Ladies, I am absolutely delighted to see her reach 50 caps in a Scotland shirt.

“She is someone who I think has always epitomised the effort and commitment it takes to represent her country.

“Hawick has got such a strong rugby heritage so although female players from the area have sometimes had to look elsewhere for opportunities in their rugby journey, there is always great pride in representing the town.”

And Lisa Thomson, winning cap number 42, versus Wales said:  “We have been through so much together, Lana has my back and I have hers and that is a great feeling.”

Another great feeling will be for Scottish supporters when they see Lana take to the field this weekend – a deserved accolade for a quiet, unassuming role model.

Wales versus Scotland kicks-off at 4.45pm on Saturday at Cardiff Arms Park and is live on BBC Two

Thanks to everyone who contributed photographs of special moments in Lana’s career and life to date