Law announces retirement from rugby

Law announces retirement from rugby

After an illustrious career spanning a decade, Scotland’s Sarah Law has decided to retire from both international and club rugby.

Cap number 164, the scrum-half-turned-stand-off has amassed 53 appearances for the national side in which she racked up 63 points and contributed to some of Scotland Women’s most historic wins.

In February 2013, after impressing at U20 level, Law made her senior Scotland debut from the bench against England in the Women’s Six Nations, replacing Louise Dalgleish at scrum-half in the opening fixture of that year’s competition, going on to make 34 more appearances at scrum-half.

Law continued to shine for Scotland, showcasing her talents both in XVs and Sevens and in 2017 she became the fourth woman to earn a professional contract from Scottish Rugby.

Law’s last appearance for Scotland was during the 2021 Rugby World Cup in New Zealand (played in 2022), when she replaced Helen Nelson during Scotland’s Pool A match against Australia.

Perhaps her most telling contribution in dark blue came during the qualification campaign for that Rugby World Cup when, with the last kick of the game, she converted Chloe Rollie’s late try to defeat Ireland and secure a repechage berth, from which point Scotland reached the tournament proper in New Zealand.

Law in action for Scotland in the 2013 Six Nations against Italy.

Prior to the Rugby World Cup, Law was diagnosed with Axial Spondyloarthritis, a form of inflammatory arthritis. The condition, which affects 1 in 200 adults in the UK, has influenced Law’s decision in hanging up her boots.

“It’s no secret that throughout my rugby playing years, I’ve had numerous battles with injuries”, said Law.

“Getting back up after each one gave me so much joy and sense of achievement but it also dented the energy stores just a little more. Two years ago, ironically just days before becoming a full-time athlete, I learned that I have a condition called Axial Spondylitis, a rheumatic condition and something that I will have for the rest of my life.

“In many ways, the timing of the diagnosis was a perfect illustration of the highs and lows of my rugby career even if it has helped to explain some of the rehab rollercoasters that I’ve been on.

“I’m still learning how to manage this diagnosis – some days feel great, and others are a struggle to move around, let alone train as an elite athlete. The urge within, the need to push oneself to be faster, stronger, fitter in order to keep up with your opponents is a constant at the top level.

“I’ve always prided myself on giving 100 percent effort and commitment every day and I do know that I’ve given it my all – it has taken its toll both physically and mentally and I haven’t got any more to give.

“It has taken more than a team’s worth of physios, doctors and coaches to support me along the way. I want to thank every one of them. Their persistence, patience and endless support over the years is the reason that I’ve lasted as long as this, for which I’m so thankful.”

Reflecting on her journey, there were many ways in which Law’s passion for rugby was sparked, but each of her core memories involve her family, who have all contributed to Scottish rugby’s rich tapestry as volunteers, referees and players.

Sarah’s father, Andy, a referee and player for Penicuik, first introduced her to the sport at the club’s mini section. She excelled in mixed mini teams throughout primary school and, at age 12, joined the Murrayfield Wanderers’ girls’ team, competing with the U15 side.

“Back in 2002, I sat at Murrayfield and watched Scotland Women take on Sweden, playing for the first time inside the main stadium. That day truly inspired me to take my rugby as far as I possibly could. I knew that I wanted to be on that pitch, wearing that jersey, playing for my country.”

Law’s early years were filled with triumphs. In 2012, she dominated the National Schools Cup Finals, scoring 32 points and earning Player of the Match honours as Murrayfield Wanderers defeated Plockton High School to win the Brewin Dolphin Scottish Schools Shield.

That same year, just after turning 17, she began playing for the Wanderers’ senior team, helping them secure a league and Cup double.

Of these notable achievements, Law particularly treasures the years in which she both trained and played alongside her sister, Rachel. Together they played at Murrayfield Wanderers and the University of Edinburgh. In 2017, although Rachel was injured, they raised the British Universities and Colleges Sport (BUCS) Championship trophy at Twickenham.

Law featured for the University of Edinburgh in the 2016 Varsity competition against St Andrews.

During her time in wearing the Thistle, Law quickly earned a reputation as a calm, calculated and organised player. Reflecting her reliability in high-pressure situations, ‘In Slaw we Trust’, soon became mantra within the Scottish rugby community. One such moment came in 2017 when Law secured Scotland’s 15-14 win against Wales in the Six Nations with a last-minute penalty at Broadwood Stadium. This win gave Scotland their first Six Nations victory in seven years and is heralded a ‘historic’ moment in Scotland Women’s history.

Reflecting on some of her personal highlights, Law said: “Playing for Scotland was the greatest honour that I could possibly imagine – and through the highs and the lows, I’m hugely grateful that I got to experience international rugby, starting as an 17-year-old amateur, all the way through to being a professional.

“Along the way, there’s been some pretty special moments – our first Six Nations win in seven years, qualifying for a Word Cup, feeling the bounce of the crowd in a packed Hive or Scotstoun – moments that made every minute of the years of hard work feel worthwhile. It’s been a privilege to be part of.

“The players who came before, the ones who inspired me, spoke about leaving the shirt behind in a better place. I hope that I represented club and country with the pride and honour they both deserved and played some part in and changing the game for the better.”

Paying tribute to her time representing the Thistle, Scotland Women Head Coach Bryan Easson said: “Sarah has been an exceptional ambassador for Scottish rugby. Her consistent performances and ability to shine under pressure have made her a beloved figure among her coaches, team-mates and fans. She is an inspiration to young athletes nationwide and we thank her for all she has done for Scotland and wish her all the best in her future endeavours.”

Beyond rugby, Sarah excelled academically. A former Head Girl at Penicuik High School, she earned a BSc (Hons) in Applied Mathematics from Edinburgh University and pursued a part-time Masters in Operational Research with Data Science.

As Sarah transitions into retirement, she intends to take each day as they come before settling on what might be next, adding: “Probably for the first time ever, I’ve not got a plan for what comes next. Playing rugby (international and club) has dictated all my time and energies. Now I’m heading into the future with some degree of trepidation, but also excitement about how I can shape my future using all the things I’ve learned as an athlete.

“I’m not ruling out an occasional run around – I hear Penicuik Rugby has a Ladies Sevens tournament these days – or a return to the sport in another capacity at some time in the future, but for now it’s time for rest.”

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