Interview: Shona Campbell reflects on a “crazy” past 17 months and is “living in the moment” and keen for more rugby success

By Gary Heatly

The last 17 months or so have been amazing for Shona Campbell – and the Scottish rugby talent wants to continue progressing going forward.

In November 2021, back three player Shona, then 20, made her Scotland XVs debut off the bench in the win against Japan at the DAM Health Stadium in Edinburgh.

Her second cap then came in early 2022 in Dubai, also off the bench, when the Scots defeated Colombia 59-3 to qualify for their first Rugby World Cup in 12 years.

Since then she has earned seven more caps for Scotland, playing in the TikTok Women’s Six Nations and the aforementioned World Cup, and she has also represented Team Scotland in sevens at the Commonwealth Games and is now a GB Sevens contracted player.

Quite some accolades for someone who only turned 21 last June, so it is fitting to feature her here on International Women’s Day 2023 (March 8).

“It has been a bit of a crazy time if I take a step back from things and think about that period mentioned,” Shona said.

“I am proud to have done all of the things I have done so far, but I am the kind of person that tries to stay living in the moment and look ahead rather than back the way.

“This is such an exciting time for women’s rugby in Scotland and throughout the world and it is great to be a young player coming through in these times.

“We are grateful to the women before us who worked so hard to build up the sport to now give us a chance to play the game for a living.

“When I got the chance to be a GB Sevens player late last year it was obviously a tough decision because it means I may not be able to play XVs for Scotland.

“However, I have always loved sevens and the chance to play on the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series was an opportunity I just could not turn down.

“The squad has gelled together well in recent months and I just want to keep testing myself, keep improving and, ultimately, push for selection for next year’s Olympics. That would mean a lot to me.”

“It is very much a family club”: Montrose and District Rugby Club started Shona’s rugby journey

 Hailing from Montrose, it was the local rugby club where this journey began for Shona.

Her Mum Caroline and Dad Duncan got involved at the club when Shona was wee, coaching there most Saturdays and Sundays meaning that she was always on the sidelines.

Since those days her parents have become synonymous with Montrose and District Rugby Club having held the positions of Secretary and President respectively for a number of years.

“It means that the club is a huge part of the family for myself, Mum and Dad and my two older brothers Ewan and Angus and we are all proud of what a small, community club is able to achieve, especially when it comes to youth rugby,” Shona explains.

“I started playing in the Micros when I was about five and then I progressed to the Minis and it was great fun because you were playing with your friends and it is very much a family club with a community feel.

“I still have lots of friends who are connected to the club and whenever I get home I try to get back down there to catch up with people. And although it can be strange being seen as a role model, if I can show girls and boys from Montrose what is possible if they work hard, then that is great.”

“Growing up I was at Lathallan School and I became one of the first girls to play rugby in their boys teams.

“When I moved to the High School of Dundee in S3, I decided to take a step back from rugby for a bit, mainly because there wasn’t a lot of rugby for girls in that area.

“At that point I was playing hockey and also playing under-17s netball for Scotland, so that sport was my focus for about three or four years and I had to put most of my energy into that.

“I was in Glasgow on Thursday nights and most weekends with Mum driving me the two hours there and back a lot of the time. It was quite intense, but I really enjoyed netball.”

Touch: “I fell in love with it, it was so much fun”

 Some injuries and also her burgeoning netball career meant that a return to rugby was looking unlikely for Shona as she approached the end of her schooldays, but it was always in the back of her mind.

“At the time I really didn’t want any more injuries, but rugby was still something I was keen on, so someone suggested giving Touch a go,” she said.

“I was soon part of the National Academy and this time it was Dad taking me down to Edinburgh quite regularly to train and play. I fell in love with it, it was so much fun.

“It is a sport in its own right and it requires great fitness and skill. I mainly played mixed Touch and playing with females and males helped bring on my skill level.

“I played Scotland under-18s for two years and then, from about the age of 17, I was part of the seniors.

“With the under-18s I was part of three European Championships and we won two of them while, with the seniors, I went to the Europeans in Nottingham and we won and I was named Player of the Tournament.

“We then went to the World Cup in Malaysia [in April and May 2019 just before Shona finished school]and managed to earn a bronze medal which was a great achievement.

“Going to a world tournament at such a young age [17 about to turn 18] was a brilliant experience and I have a lot to thank Touch for.”

“When we came out of the first lockdown, all my focus was on rugby”

 In the late summer of 2019, Shona began studying for an undergraduate degree in psychology at the University of Edinburgh.

Netball was a factor in her heading to the capital, but she had also been training with the Scotland under-18 girls sevens squad, so rugby was still in the mix.

“At that time I thought rugby for me would be concentrated on sevens, but I was aware that the University of Edinburgh had a good rugby set up. Indeed, in the last three and a bit years, the uni have really supported me as they do with all other athletes who study there,” she states.

“In my first year at uni I was playing for the first team at netball, was still playing Touch and was training at BT Murrayfield as part of the Scotland under-20s/Futures in terms of rugby.

“It was a busy time, but I really enjoyed the mix and in early March 2020 I played for the uni rugby team in their BUCS Championship semi-final. We beat Northumbria and I enjoyed that XVs outing, but sadly the final was never played as everything shut down due to the pandemic.

“Rugby was on my mind at that point and when we came out of the first lockdown, all my focus was on rugby, I started to stop the other sports.

“I began to work my way into the wider Scotland sevens and XVs squads as things began to open up again and [in 2021] was 25th player for some of the Six Nations games and I began playing sevens on the Rugby Europe circuit.”

“I’m super grateful to Scott Forrest for taking me to Canada”

Shona missed out on selection for the Scotland XVs squad which headed to the Rugby World Cup Europe qualifier in Italy in September 2021.

Scotland went on to finish second there and progressed to the aforementioned Colombia game.

Not being there was tough for Shona to take, but it was tempered by being asked by Scott Forrest, a well respected Scottish coach, to travel with GB Sevens to two ‘Fast Four’ events in Canada around the same time.

“Sevens-wise it was a big jump to suddenly be in with the GB Sevens squad, but I’m super grateful to Scott Forrest for taking me to Canada,” Shona, who is now in the fourth and final year of her degree, said.

“Those events helped me to learn a lot and then, that December, I was lucky enough to be selected to play in the season opening Sevens Series event in Dubai for GB.

“That came just a few weeks after my first XVs cap for Scotland and I haven’t really looked back since.

“In late 2021 and throughout 2022 I had so many great experiences on a rugby pitch and I want to keep that going.”

Since signing her first full-time GB Sevens contract post-XVs World Cup, Shona has played in the Sevens Series events for this season in Dubai, Sydney and Hamilton and missed the one in Cape Town with a concussion.

She was not involved last weekend in Vancouver, but now has her sights on selection for Hong Kong later this month into next month and Toulouse in May.

In the coming weeks Shona will be part of three skills clinics via Onside Performance

 They will be girls only and will be the Glasgow South one on March 13, the Callendar one on March 20 and the Edinburgh one on March 22.

Shona will be joined by her Scotland and GB Sevens team mate Lisa Thomson for the one in Edinburgh.

 For information on all three clinics, visit

Keep an eye out for lots of Scottish women’s rugby content on this site over the next few months…

Thanks to Shona herself and Rugby People for the photos featured here