One of the iconic moments of the 2022/23 rugby season was seeing the emotion on Rhona Lloyd’s face when the winger scored the winning try for GB Sevens versus France in Hong Kong in early April.
The score gave GB a 5-0 quarter-final win in the women’s HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series event and was later named the Try of the Series.
It was a big moment for a GB squad still finding their way in their first full year as an entity while for Scotland flyer Lloyd it was the culmination of an up and down period following the XVs Rugby World Cup in New Zealand late in 2022.
“I don’t think the video of that try and the emotion I showed as I touched it down will ever leave me, it keeps popping up on social media,” Lloyd, now 26, joked.
“Seriously though, it was a special moment.
“At one point after the World Cup I wasn’t sure whether to take the GB Sevens contract or not, it was a big decision for me.
“Then I had to get a thumb injury sorted out and was out for around three months at the start of the GB journey, so to have come back to playing in Vancouver in early March and then helped the team with this really important try against France in the next event in Hong Kong which began in late March and ran into early April], well the moment just got the better of me.
“Sometimes I had doubted whether I was good enough to be playing on the world sevens circuit regularly, so to play a part in that try was special in such a tight game as all year we had talked about a top four finish and that score got us through to the semis there.
“It helped with our momentum as a group and we were able to finish off the circuit and then head to the European Games in Krakow in the summer and get the job done there of qualifying for the Olympics next year.
“That is a big thing on the horizon and I have my sights et on making it to Paris, but right for just now I am focusing on Scotland.”
Lloyd, the Edinburgh-born player who came through the ranks at Murrayfield Wanderers back in the day, missed the TikTok Women’s Six Nations due to her GB involvement, but is now back in the mix along with Lisa Thomson and Shona Campbell with sevens action not resuming until later in the year.
They are part of Scotland’s 32-strong extended training squad that is building up to a Test match with Spain late in September in Edinburgh and then the WXV 2 event in South Africa in October.
Their availability makes Scotland’s backline options look very strong and Lloyd will be keen to add to her 42 caps and her healthy try record in that period.
She has always been someone to push herself and since the 2021/22 season she has been part of the Les Lionnes du Stade Bordelais club in France.
“It was a big move, but I improved massively in the first season I was with the club, especially on the physical side of the game, and I really enjoyed being part of the culture that they had created there straight away,” she explained.
“It was a big culture shock for me on and off the pitch, the style of rugby is totally different, but in that first season I learnt a lot which I could then take into the World Cup with Scotland.
“Then I joined GB Sevens [in late 2022] I did think I might have to join another club side closer to home, but with the sevens we are travelling all the time, so I was able to stay connected with Les Lionnes du Stade Bordelais and I am glad of that.
“Scotland-wise, we were so proud to put Scotland on the map and get the country to the first World Cup in 12 years in 2022.
“Results-wise we were disappointed, but we knew that it was just the end of one journey in a way to get there and the start of another to take us to even greater heights.
“And the start of that new journey left me with a choice to make because Scotland full-time contracts were being made available, but there was also the opportunity to join up with GB Sevens.
“Having got so close to making to the Tokyo Olympics personally I felt I owed it to myself to give GB Sevens a real go. Playing for Scotland has meant everything to me in the last few years and it still does, but I had to give the sevens another go with a real focus on trying to make it to the Paris Olympics.
“Thankfully the Scotland staff and players were all very understanding of that and since then I have been their biggest fan.
“Now I am back with them for this period it feels so good and the squad is in a really good place.”
Scotland extended training 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)
Rachel McLachlan (Sale Sharks)
Louise McMillan (Saracens)
Lana Skeldon (University of Worcester Warriors)
Nikki Simpson (Garioch)
Emma Wassell (Loughborough Lightning)
Anne Young (Sale Sharks)
Beth Blacklock (Saracens)
Shona Campbell (GB Sevens)
Coreen Grant (Saracens)
Caity Mattinson (University of Worcester Warriors)
Jenny Maxwell (Loughborough Lightning)
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 (Heriots/Biggar)
Chloe Rollie (Loughborough Lightning)
Eilidh Sinclair (Exeter Chiefs)
Meryl Smith (Bristol Bears)
Lisa Thomson (GB Sevens)
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Rhona Lloyd is pictured by Scottish Rugby/Jim Parsons and World Rugby