It will be all-Whyte on the night as Iona gets ready for Scotland v Canada

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Iona Whyte has become used to looking out her boots ahead of rugby matches in recent years, but on Tuesday evening she will be looking out her microphone as a member of the BBC ALBA team bringing viewers coverage of the Scotland Women versus Canada Test match at Scotstoun (7pm).

Recently Scottish Rugby announced that they had reached a deal with BBC ALBA to televise an unprecedented number of women’s matches going forward. 

The first Scotland match to be shown under the new deal will be this one and Whyte, 23, will be presenting the broadcast.

Into 2019 the three home Six Nations matches against Italy, Ireland and Wales will be live too with BBC ALBA also confident of being able to show the away matches as well.

At the domestic level, the Sarah Beaney Cup final will be shown live – and Whyte cannot wait to help take women’s rugby to potential new audiences along with the rest of the BBC ALBA team.

“I was born and bred in Glasgow and a big Warriors fan which is definitely where my interest in playing rugby came from,” she says of her own sporting journey.

“I was a season ticket-holder for around four years, starting back in the Firhill days. I always wanted to try and play, but didn’t actually pluck up the courage until I went to uni.

“I had always played team sports and the sense of comradery and reliance between team mates is something I love. I think was the inclusivity of rugby that really drew me in. It is anyone’s game, whether you are ‘sporty’ or not, everyone has a different role to play on the pitch.”

Whyte played for five years at Glasgow University, spending her third year playing sevens in Strasbourg, France – “a real change of pace!”

“During my time with the Uni we won the Women’s National Two league and the team have been playing in National One since the 2015/16 season, which is a really competitive league,” she explained.

“My final year in the team was a real highlight as we came second in the league, first in the BUCS 1A university league and won the BT Plate.

“Since graduating I have been playing for Cartha Queen’s Park in the BT Women’s Premier League which has been a real increase in physicality, but a challenge I have relished. Some of the players in the league are so skilful and playing at such a high level, but it has only pushed me to hit harder and run faster to compete with some the best players in Scotland.

“I started on the wing as many backs tend to, but I have played anywhere in the backline when needed, and even in the back-row though I settled into playing 10 in my final two years of university.

“The tactical and reactive side of the game really interests me and dictating play from what I see on the pitch.”

BBC ALBA image by Scottish Rugby SNS

So, how did Whyte’s move into television come about?

She stated:  “I applied to be a ‘New Talent’ trainee for BBC Alba’s sports coverage with Nemeton TV and fortunately was successful.

“I think when I started it very quickly became clear that I knew much more about rugby than I did football and presented a lot of their social media coverage at Glasgow and Edinburgh games.

“As I got more experienced I got the opportunity to co-present at matches, the last one being the Warriors semi-final v Scarlets last year which was an amazing experience. I’m a big fan of reading rugby stats and analysis of games myself so I think being a bit of rugby nut, on and off the pitch, and having that Gaelic media experience was how this current position came my way.

“I am incredibly excited to be involved in BBC ALBA’s coverage. The channel always gives great sports coverage and has made itself home to Scottish club rugby over the years, but it is now also making a name for itself as a home for women’s sport in Scotland.

“With the channel covering both the women’s national football team and the rugby team, it is a really exciting time to be involved in women’s sport!

“The fact that games will be shown live on the channel is a huge development for women’s rugby and really give it a platform to showcase how exciting it is.

“The current Scotland squad looks really strong and has a real mixture of well-known faces and new, it is quite a young team, though not inexperienced. It is great to see so many players with professional contracts now and hopefully we will see more contracted players coming through in the future.

“I think it is a real boost to have players playing in England and across the channel, that will be able to bring a new depth of experience with them to the national squad. There are some really exciting players coming into the team and some big names back from injury so I’m really looking forward to watching the team in action against Canada.”

Where is BBC ALBA is available?

Sky – 141
Freeview / YouView – 7 (Scotland only)
Virgin Media – 161
Freesat – 109
BBC iPlayer

Scotland v Canada kicks off at 7pm on Tuesday at Scotstoun and is preceded by the Girls’ Schools Cup under-15s final (2pm) and under-18s final (3.45pm).

Tickets provide entry to all three games and cost £10 for adults or £5 for students and under-18s.

Thanks to Iona and Scottish Rugby/SNS for the photos

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