A SPORTSWOMAN from Cumnock has made her debut for Scotland after competing in the Six Nations rugby match against France on Sunday – helping the team to secure a draw against a team they haven’t won against since 2011.

Rachel Shankland described getting her first cap for Scotland at the weekend as ‘incredible’, particularly after having spent months away from professional games due to the pandemic.

But the ex-Cumnock Academy pupil certainly made an impression on the pitch after scoring an outstanding try which brought the match to a 13-13 draw.

Cumnock Chronicle: Credit: SNS Group / Scottish RugbyCredit: SNS Group / Scottish Rugby

Rachel, who celebrated her 29th birthday a day after her debut, said the squad’s hard work was reflected in the final result.

She said: “It was incredible. The whole thing of being selected and named in the starting squad right through to getting the draw and it being a victory for us, it was quite surreal and really exciting.

“It was hugely positive for the team as a whole and really exciting in terms of the progress we’ve made and how much we’re moving forward.”

Incredibly, Rachel, who also works part time as a social worker, only began playing rugby after a friend introduced her to the sport at university.

She continued: “I started at Stirling County maybe five years ago. I’m an outside centre so to be on the wing on Sunday was really new. It was a new position that I had to learn ahead of that fixture but it was a really cool challenge. I would’ve been happy with anywhere they put me.

Cumnock Chronicle: Credit: SNS Group / Scottish RugbyCredit: SNS Group / Scottish Rugby

“I started playing rugby at Stirling Uni. It was the first team I played for and I’ve been at County ever since.

Rachel now resides in Perth but received many messages of support from Cumnock locals following her debut.

She said: “Cumnock never had a women or girls team when I was growing up but they do now so it’s really cool they have one. It’s a great opportunity for girls in the town and surrounding area to get into it at an early age.

“It’s been overwhelming the amount of support I’ve received from people in Cumnock.”