Women’s 6N: Francesca McGhie “loved every second” of her first tournament with Scotland – and there is plenty more to come from the winger

Gary Heatly

It is all going on right now for Francesca McGhie with the rugby starlet potentially playing in the Sarah Beaney Cup final this coming Saturday and then celebrating her 20th birthday on Sunday.

However, whatever happens over the weekend it will have to be pretty special to top last Saturday evening when she ran in a wonder try to help Scotland secure a bonus point 36-10 triumph over Ireland at the DAM Health Stadium in Edinburgh and, as a result, fourth placed finish in the TikTok Women’s Six Nations.

It was the 65th of the tournament finale in front of a record home crowd of 4,862 when the Watsonians winger got the ball out wide.

Great pace got her past her opposite number and then she showed neat footwork to cut inside the scrambling defence and dot down for her first every international score.

“I have watched the video back a few times since Saturday, I might have looked in control, but I did not have a clue what I was doing,” the 19-year-old laughed.

“When I watched it back I thought to myself that I probably could have just kept running straight, but I cut back in and thankfully it worked.

“When I got up after scoring all of the subs and my other team mates were jumping on me an it was a bit mad, I couldn’t believe it really.

“There has been a lot of people messaging me about it and my phone hasn’t really calmed down yet, it has been a bit crazy.

“I went back to my job on Monday [at Loretto School in Musselburgh as a gap student in the junior school] and everyone knew what I’d been up to, they were really happy for me.

“The try was also shown at assembly and the kids were cheering very loudly, so that was nice.”

McGhie only took up the sport via East Lothian girls training in 2018 after a background in hockey, lacrosse and dancing, the latter seeing her involved with the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland at the time.

However, once she picked up a rugby ball it soon became her sport of choice and, in 2021/22 in her first senior season, the former Loretto and George Watson’s College pupil scored a hat-trick of tries for Watsonians as they won the Tennent’s Premiership final against Hillhead Jordanhill.

By that time she was well on the radar of the Scotland Futures and full Scotland coaches and scintillating form in the Celtic Challenge competition for the Thistles earlier this year sealed the deal in terms of a call up to the main squad.

Scotland head coach Bryan Easson called her up to the wider group ahead of the Six Nations and things have skyrocketed from there.

“If you had said to me five years ago that by this time in 2023 I’d have just finished playing in my first Six Nations, I’d have laughed in your face,” McGhie, whose father played rugby and whose brother Kyle is currently with the Stirling Wolves, said.

“In fact, if you had told me at Christmas time I’d have played in all the Six Nations games I’d have laughed in your face.

“To be named in the squad at the start of the tournament this year was a massive surprise.

“I was suddenly a team mate of people I’ve watched on TV and it was a bit daunting at first, but I’ve loved every second of it.

“Everyone was so welcoming during my first few days in camp and it has all been a bit of a whirlwind, but to now be friends with these girls and have five full caps under my belt I feel very fortunate.

“This squad has an exciting future and I just hope I can continue to be a part of it.”

Francesca McGhie was speaking at Oriam on the outskirts of Edinburgh on Tuesday at a World Rugby tackle technique media day.

World Rugby, supported by Scottish Rugby, brought together players passionate about rugby to get hands-on experience testing out their new and updated educational programmes Breakdown Ready and Tackle Ready.

World Rugby makes available a huge range of training materials free of charge to anyone who wants to use them online here – all of these are adapted to take into account of the community tackle law trials.

Keep an eye out on GH Media’s channels for comprehensive debrief coverage of Scotland TikTok Women’s Six Nations campaign until May 3…

Francesca McGhie is pictured by Rugby People