Littlejohn reflects on the first ever Scotland Women match

Littlejohn reflects on the first ever Scotland Women match

Tuesday 14th February 2023 celebrated 30 years since the first ever Scotland Women’s International match took place at Raeburn Place in Edinburgh against Ireland.

Kim Littlejohn was one of the trailblazers that played in that first fixture and eventually went on to make 43 appearances in the Thistle, while captaining her side for 29 of those occasions.

While reflecting on the first Scotland Women fixture, the former centre said: “The first game at Raeburn Place was very special for all of us Scots and I know it was special for the Irish women’s team as well who were also playing their first international.

“I was especially inspired because our Forwards Coach at that first match was former British Lion and Scotland Internationalist, Sandy Carmichael.  I can remember in the lead up thinking it was so great that our first international was taking place at the same venue as the first men’s rugby international. It just seemed so fitting and was one of the features of the match that was highlighted in the buzz of media coverage that we were thrilled to receive.”

She continued: “I remember being pretty nervous while we were warming up as well and hadn’t really noticed people arriving at the ground, so I was shocked when we came out from the changing rooms before the match to find the stand full of spectators.  It was a far cry from any other rugby match I’d ever played, and I remember the difference in atmosphere playing when there was a noisy response to action on the pitch.

“Sandra Colamartino, the captain that day, was brilliant and scored two solid tries in the match for us to win 10-0 but we all felt it had been about playing our hearts out for our countries and I know that’s what we and the Irish team did.”

Singing the Flower of Scotland is always something that fills Scots with great pride and on that day 30 years ago, Kim remembers the experience in vivid detail.

She said: “I was pretty nervous in the changing rooms before the match so getting out onto the pitch and singing Flower of Scotland with the team was a great calming opportunity for me.

“Singing the national anthem before a match is a great way of singing out some nerves and feeling together with your teammates before you take on the opposition.  We were looking out from the Raeburn Place pitch at the first crowd I had ever played rugby in front of. Knowing that we were there representing Scotland and being supported by the people in the stands was something I felt really proud of.

“We knew that there were people in the crowd who had come to genuinely support us and also knew there were others who had come to witness what they considered a bit freakish, so I felt a responsibility and determination to show that we were making an effort to play rugby at a high standard and with the passion expected from an international team.”

Playing rugby for Scotland as a female player wasn’t something that was possible for women before 1993 and the women who were playing at the time played for the love of the sport.

Littlejohn continued: “It didn’t cross my mind before 1993 that I wanted to play rugby for Scotland because it wasn’t a thing that existed for women.  I just played rugby because I loved it and took every opportunity to play at as high a level as I could.  So, I may not have known that I wanted to start playing international rugby but, once I had played and experienced the pace and passion of international matches, I knew I didn’t want it to stop.”

Nowadays, young women and girls can consider a career in women’s rugby thanks to people like Kim. Women’s rugby in Scotland has progressed a lot over the last 30 years and Kim hopes that will long continue.

She said: “At a grassroots level, I hope that girls and women can show up at their local rugby club and be welcomed and included: they can find training sessions to learn from and matches to play in, a team to have fun with and a community to support them.

“And for the national team, I hope that they reap the positives of their squad of professional players and that they play powerful and competitive rugby, which is exciting for their supporters to watch, and which attracts new supporters so that there are many thousands of us supporting them in their march towards the 2025 World Cup.”

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