Campbell and Young reflect on Scotland debuts
It’s fair to say that Scotland Women’s Autumn Test against Japan was a memorable day for all those involved. The match was a welcomed return to home soil following Scotland’s success at the Rugby World Cup 2021 Europe Qualifiers in Parma, and the squad were greeted by a vocal and buoyant home support for the first time since 2019.
However, for University of Edinburgh duo, Anne Young and Shona Campbell, it marked the start of their senior careers.
Young said: “It was unbelievable. It was kind of a déjà vu moment because in 2019 I was on the bench for the exact same fixture. I felt way more ready now than I did two years ago!
“It felt pretty surreal even seeing my name on the team sheet and on the social posts.
“I had so many people I know come along. I had all my flatmates, my friends, I think half of Helensburgh Rugby Club was there and my old P7 coach was there! I do remember at the end of the game Bryan saying to me ‘did you have a bit of a fan club out there?’ because I think he could hear them from the box!
“I was so lucky to have so many people come and support me, it was amazing.”
Campbell added: “I think it was very much a whirlwind, Ellen Dickson [Team Manager] was like ‘you need to go warm up’ and then she was like ‘oh no, you’re going on’ so I didn’t even have any time to think about it.
“Stepping onto that pitch it was like finally that moment is there, you have got your cap.
“But I think a big thing for me was that I just wanted to play with confidence. I just wanted to enjoy it. I was playing with a smile on my face, that was the main thing I wanted to do.”
The pair have enjoyed a meteoric rise through the ranks so far and have since been selected in Bryan Easson’s squad for the RWC 2021 Final Qualification Tournament in Dubai.
A product of Hermitage Academy, Young started playing minis rugby at her local club, Helensburgh, before moving to Hillhead Jordanhill.
Speaking of her first experience trying rugby, Young said: “I’ve got a twin sister, and both of our neighbours were twins as well, so we were all good friends, and we all joined the local rugby club together in around primary six.
“The reason we started I think was because my dad was really big into rugby. He played when he was younger and was a big fan, and so was our neighbours’ dad, so we all kind of just did it together. We did pretty much everything together.
“But by primary 7 the rest of them had dropped out, so it was just me in the team, but I loved it from the moment I did it.
“I did loads of other sports as well. We tried everything, like we did taekwondo, hockey, dancing but rugby was the main one that stuck.
“I mostly just did it because I enjoyed it, I never thought there would be anything further in it than playing for clubs.”
From her time playing rugby at primary school, to lifting the RBS Scottish Varsity silverware at BT Murrayfield in 2018 and 2019, it’s clear that there is a significant amount of people that contributed to Young’s rugby journey so far.
While paying tribute to those that have helped her along the way, Young said: “My family have played a massive part in my rugby career, with my parents driving me to games and training, and making sure that I’m fed, watered and looked after.
“All my coaches and the Uni team have been such a massive help with coaching.
“Within the Scotland team there are so many people who’ve helped me, especially front row girls like Lana and Megan have been so helpful with me, just giving me confidence and giving me tips, being a friendly face, making sure that I’m okay.
“There’s been so many people, my friends, my flatmates, every training session they’ve let me come in and talk about it.
“So many people, I couldn’t go through them all.”
Campbell started rugby aged five at Montrose, before taking a break at the age of 14 to compete at a national level in netball. The 20-year old has also competed at a national level in touch rugby and was a part of the Scottish mixed team who claimed bronze in the World Cup finals in Malaysia in 2019.
A former pupil at High School of Dundee, Campbell currently plays for the University of Edinburgh while studying for a degree in psychology.
Campbell said: “My mum and dad run the local rugby club, which is Montrose Rugby Club.
“I played at the local rugby club with the boys all the way through minis and with my school, so that’s how I first got into it. I’ve got two older brothers so I’m very competitive!
“I think for me I’ve always said I’ve always wanted to play for Scotland, that’s been a dream since I was a kid.
“Growing up, I wasn’t sure what sport that was going to be in and I tried lots of different sports, but then decided rugby was the one for me and kind of stuck with it.
“I’ve always played a sport for the love of it, and obviously I played a lot of sports growing up but rugby was the one I never fell out of love with.
“No matter how much I play it, I could play it every single day and I’d still enjoy it.
“That’s how I knew it was the sport for me.”
The past two years have been a whirlwind journey for Campbell, with the winger making her Scotland 7s debut at the Rugby Europe Sevens Championships in Lisbon last summer, before being selected in the GB Sevens squad for the Canada and Dubai Sevens Series.
Looking back at her journey through the pathway system, Campbell said: “I came in for U18s sessions, that was my first thing to do with Scottish Rugby.
“Then off the back of that I was part of U20s futures for about six months until Covid hit and then once the restrictions started to ease, I was in with the women’s squad.
“I thought it was very professional for the age groups we were at, which was something that really motivated me.
“It was very much connected to the women’s squad as well, which is what I like. We would train alongside the women’s squad, so we saw what we were aiming to be and kind of set the standard for us.
“I think the way we were treated as a pathway, we were given all the best opportunities we can be to get into that women’s squad and given the skills we need to get there. I really enjoyed my time in the futures.
She continued: “When I was then brought into the Scotland Women squad for the Japan game, I hadn’t seen the email!
“I was even going up to the other girls at training that night and going ‘well done’ and they were like ‘you do know you’re in the squad?’ and I was like ‘what?!’
“I need to learn to check my emails!
“I was obviously over the moon. Being part of the team, I’ve been part of the wider squad for a while now so just getting that ‘you’re in the 25’ was just a huge step for me and something I’ve been working for for a really a long time so it kind of felt a bit surreal when I actually saw my name down there.
“Just a huge dream come true really. The squad was in a really positive place coming off the back of World Cup qualifiers and really wanting to make a show with the first time the home crowd were coming back, winning those two games with a chance to win a third on the trot. I think the squad is in a really positive place and it’s a great camp to be part of.”