WXV 2 build up: “I have never felt like I have belonged somewhere so much before – it’s brilliant,” says Beth Blacklock about life in Scotland camp

Gary Heatly

It has been a busy 2023 so far for Beth Blacklock – and she is loving every minute of it.

In the last few months she has made her debut for Scotland, gone on to earn a further two caps, ended her time at Harlequins strongly and earned a move to Saracens all while holding down a job as a data engineer away from the rugby pitch.

The 25-year-old centre is currently part of the 30-strong Scotland squad preparing for the Spain encounter on September 30 at Hive Stadium and then the WXV 2 event in South Africa next month.

Once they get over there the Scots will be taking on the hosts in Burgersdorp on October 13, USA in Cape Town on October 20 and Japan in Cape Town on October 27.

And Blacklock admits there have been a few ‘pinch me’ moments of late when she has had to take a step back and just appreciate the exciting journey she is on.

“It has been a busy, but very enjoyable few months that is for sure,” she stated.

“I have always been aware of my Scottish qualifications and come February time I was having a chat with Bryan [Easson, the Scotland head coach] and he was keen for me to come in and get a feel for the wider Scotland environment and see what it was all about.

“So, I did that and luckily I was involved in a few pre-Six Nations camps and it was brilliant.

“I absolutely loved it and I have never really felt like I have belonged somewhere so much before, straight away it just felt like the place for me and everyone was so welcoming.

“From then on there was no question that I wanted to get into the Six Nations squad and I wanted to pull on a Scotland jersey.”

And Blacklock did not have to wait long to do just that, being named in the matchday 23 for the TikTok Women’s Six Nations opener away against the Rugby World Cup runners-up England in March.

A crowd of 10,053 was there on the day to see Sarah Hunter earn her 141st and final England cap while it was being played at Kingston Park in Newcastle just along the road from where Blacklock spent a number of years studying for an undergraduate degree and then a postgraduate degree at Durham University.

Scotland lost, but it was hard to wipe the smile off Blacklock’s face after she came on in the 62nd minute.

“It was an incredible day, it was so surreal that I was playing for Scotland against a lot of players who I knew from playing down south,” the player whose mother is from Barrhead said.

“As soon as I was named in the 23 a lot of my friends and family made sure they got hold of tickets, so to see them all there on the touchline afterwards was amazing and to be part of Sarah Hunter’s last game given what she has done for women’s rugby was an honour.

“I grew up on Mersea Island in Essex, but myself, my mum and my sister would always head up to Scotland every December for a ‘girly weekend’ where we’d get some of our Christmas shopping done, maybe go to the panto and always have fish and chips and ‘special wine’ which was blackcurrant juice!

“We’d leave my brother and dad at home for that and I have great memories of those times while mum still has family members in Scotland so she and the wider family are really chuffed that I’m playing for Scotland – it means a lot to me and it means a lot to them.”

Midfield places in the Scotland ranks are highly sought after, but after the England game Blacklock managed to come off the bench as a replacement in the home games against Wales and Ireland in the Six Nations and was an unused sub against Italy.

“It was just great to be a part of the Six Nations and I felt like I learnt week on week while I was in camp around that time,” Blacklock recounted.

“After the tournament I did try and take a step back and realise what I had achieved and I was pretty proud, but I knew I wanted more of it.

“To be picked to be part of the pre-season training group recently was good and I think this squad is just going to get better and better. We have so many good connections in the group on and off the pitch, the forwards are playing some great rugby and I think you could see in the Six Nations that the attack was starting to fire and that we have lots of different options in the backline.

“Now we are a squad of 30, we just want to build from where we are and we are looking forward to the next month or so.”

When she was growing up on the aforementioned Mersea Island, Blacklock was taken to the local club in Colchester to get involved with the Minis, but her and her sister decided to give rugby up after a while and tried other sports.

These included football, cricket, sailing and swimming through her teens and it was not until she headed north to Durham for university that rugby came back into her life.

“Coreen Grant, now one of my good friends and a fellow Scotland squad member, was captain of the university first XV at the time and she dragged me along to one of the sessions and things blossomed from there,” Blacklock, whose current job away from rugby is with Jaguar Land Rover, explained.

“I started playing for the twos and then my first game for the first XV was away to the University of Edinburgh around Christmas time and my opposite player was Thommo [Scotland centre Lisa Thomson], so it is funny that we are now team mates.”

While she was studying Business and Economics and then Defence, Development and Diplomacy at Durham, rugby was a big part of Blacklock’s life.

She captained Durham’s first XV at one point and went on to play for Darlington Mowden Park Sharks.

Some good showings at that level earned her a big move to Harlequins in the summer of 2021 and, as mentioned, recently she moved onto Saracens.

Blacklock concluded:  “A lot has happened since I came back to rugby and I’m so glad I did – I have Coreen Grant to thank for that!

“Right now I am just working hard and trying to grab every opportunity that comes my way.”

Scotland squad:


 Leah Bartlett (Leicester Tigers)

Christine Belisle (Loughborough Lightning)

Sarah Bonar (Harlequins)

Elliann Clarke (Bristol Bears)

Lisa Cockburn (University of Worcester Warriors)

Eva Donaldson (Leicester Tigers)

Evie Gallagher (University of Worcester Warriors)

Jade Konkel (Harlequins)

Rachel Malcolm (Loughborough Lightning, C)

Elis Martin (Leicester Tigers)

Fiona McIntosh (Saracens)

Rachel McLachlan (Sale Sharks)

Louise McMillan (Saracens)

Lana Skeldon (University of Worcester Warriors)

Demi Swann (University of Worcester Warriors)

Emma Wassell (Loughborough Lightning)

Anne Young (Sale Sharks)


Beth Blacklock (Saracens)

Coreen Grant (Saracens)

Caity Mattinson (University of Worcester Warriors)

Mairi McDonald (Exeter Chiefs)

Francesca McGhie (Leicester Tigers)

Holly McIntyre (University of Edinburgh)

Rhona Lloyd (GB Sevens/Les Lionnes du Stade Bordelais)

Liz Musgrove (Ealing Trailfinders)

Helen Nelson (Loughborough Lightning, V-C)

Emma Orr (Heriot’s/Biggar)

Lisa Thomson (GB Sevens)

Chloe Rollie (Loughborough Lightning)

Meryl Smith (Bristol Bears)

Match tickets are on sale now for the Spain Test at Hive Stadium on September 30 at 5.45pm, click here to secure some…

Keep an eye out on GH Media’s channels for Scotland women’s coverage up to and through to the end of WXV 2 in October…

Thanks to Scottish Rugby/SNS for the man image of Beth Blacklock, she is also pictured with Coreen Grant