Two seasons at Sarries have gone Swiftly for Taylor fan McMillan and she loves being part of the band at the StoneX

Gary Heatly

This weekend Taylor Swift mania is hitting Edinburgh with the global superstar playing three concerts at Murrayfield.

During the Guinness Women’s Six Nations Scotland second-row Louise McMillan and her international team mates were playing at the nearby Hive Stadium and the 26-yeear-old made it clear in a podcast interview that she is a big Taylor Swift fan.

McMillan, who now has 53 caps for her country, will not be at any of the gigs in the Scottish capital because she has her own important performance in the English capital on Sunday when Saracens take on Bristol Bears in the PWR play-off semi-final (2pm live on TNT Sports with Gloucester-Hartpury-Exeter Chiefs at 4.30pm).

The Birkmyre and Hillhead Jordanhill product will have to wait to see Taylor Swift in August, but with that ticket secured all her focus is on winning the big ticket with Sarries on June 22 at Sandy Park in Exeter.

Before the play-offs McMillan, a lawyer by trade, has taken time to reflect on her two seasons at Saracens – and in a full-time rugby environment with club and country – since the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand in late 2022.

“I spoke to a few clubs at the time, but my Scotland team mate Jodie Rettie was at Saracens then and she talked to me a bit about the club and the culture there,” McMillan, who is on the bench for the play-off semi-final with international team mate Coreen Grant on the wing, said.

“As soon as I then had a chat with director of rugby Alex Austerberry after that and knew the club was keen for me to join I thought that Saracens seemed the right fit for me as I transitioned from working and playing rugby full-time to rugby being my job.

“The conversation that I had with him was really interesting and peaked my interest. Other people I spoke to me were being flattering and telling me what I could bring to their club, but Alex came at it from a different angle.

“He asked me what I could being to Saracens and why I’d be a good fit for them and I really liked the way that he made it clear that I’d have to prove myself and work hard if I joined, but that I’d be joining a squad full of top class players with high standards who drive each other on.

“And since day one that I moved down south and came into training that is exactly the kind of environment I found here. Everyone trains hard, plays hard and works on the little details to make themselves the best player that they can be and while there is a lot of competition for places the collective strength of the playing group helps everyone along and it is a great place to be.”

We often here about the shift from professional sport to ‘normal’ life being quite tricky, but going the opposite way also has it challenges.

McMillan was one of those through her time studying and into the world of work who was always dashing from something to get to rugby training, but suddenly post-New Zealand rugby was her job.

“It was definitely challenging in some aspects while it also took time to getting used to having ‘down time’ and learning how to use that properly,” she explained.

“I’ve said before, but I remember in the early months speaking to Scotland assistant coach Tyrone Holmes and saying to him I’d have to get a part-time job or something to fill up my time because I was used to a full work diary before and not having days off during the week.

“He has been a pro player himself and he told me just to get used to the schedule and commitments attached to being a rugby player and in the ‘down time’ use it properly to recover, sleep, analyse things for upcoming matches in more detail.

“I got used to the way the weeks worked down here at Sarries and soon realised that with club and internation commitments I was still very busy, I could just manage my time a bit better.

“That, over time, helped me to become a better player and allowed me to work on parts of my game that I perhaps had not been able to focus on before.

“I felt like I really came on in my first season at Saracens last year and this year, while competition for places has been even harder, I have worked really hard and I feel like I am reaping the benefits of that now having had a solid Six Nations campaign and then been able to hit the ground running on returning to the club a few weeks ago.

“We are all looking forward to the play-offs and we are in a good frame of mind heading into them. The regular season win over [previously unbeaten] Gloucester-Hartpury shows what we are capable and we want to keep those standards high.”

Thanks to Matt Impey – Wired Photos/ Saracens for the image