Big Interview - Jade Konkel

June 16, 2016

How has the season been going and what are your focusses at this stage of the season?

The season has been very positive for us so far despite not taking away a Six Nations win. We have stepped up our performances from previous years and developed in each game. This is the beginning of a new era for Scotland Women. Our focus at this stage is to progress with each game and concentrate on our own game and in return, the outcomes will take care of themselves. The BT Scottish Rugby Academy includes 16 young women in its first year and nine of these players, including myself, have been involved in this year’s Six Nations. I definitely feel that the Academy has been a great help with player development which we have taken into our performances throughout the Six Nations. We are looking to play a fast, high tempo game and really challenge our opposition around set piece and open play. 

Growing up, was rugby your main focus when it came to sport or were there other games you preferred?

No, there was not much rugby for girls when I was a kid. I played basketball for the Highland Bears U18s and we took part in the 1st Division Scottish National League. I also did a self defence martial art called Goshin Ryu Kempo where I gained my black belt in 2008 at the age of 14. I also was in the Army Cadets for five years which I thoroughly enjoyed as there were various activities such as first aid, field craft, fire arms and the PT aspects. I have always loved rugby but the options like there are today were not the same. Rugby is one of the fastest growing sports in the world for women and girls – here in Scotland, there are new teams starting across the country all the time. Getting girls involved at a younger age is great for women’s rugby as it will mean more players coming through with better skills.

3. Which grassroots clubs were you a member of and do you still stay in touch with the club?

As a child, I grew up watching my parents play for Inverness Craig Dunain. I love keeping up with how the club are getting on and the women’s team restarted again in 2013 after disbanding in the 1990s. My dad and two brothers still turn out for the club and my mum plays for the women’s team.  

4. What are your memories of those clubs?

From a young age, every Saturday was rugby Saturday and it was the best day ever. As a toddler all the way up to my teens, I would run up and down the sidelines cheering on my dad and even from an early age I realised how the team are your rugby family, even if you are just a supporter. There are so many good memories of growing up watching my family and Inverness Craig Dunain play. One of my favourite stories is, when I was about four, I was doing my usual running up and down the sidelines, probably a bit eager and too close to the pitch so as my dad made a tackle, he scooped me in his arm along with tackling the guy into touch. I still tell him it was clearly a double team effort. I love the club and always look forward to going to a game if I travel home for the weekend. A huge honour for me was when I was asked to go back when the team first got back together and play a friendly alongside my mum. It was a very special day and my mum also took away player of the match. I was very proud. 

5. What is that stands out for you as some of the aspects of amateur rugby that make it such a passion for so many?

I think the ‘team’ aspect is huge. As I said before, your team is your family. On and off the pitch, you have their back and you know they have yours. It is a bond that no one can break. The passion of playing for each other is a huge drive in a club and what can certainly make or break teams. 

6. Will you go back and play grassroots rugby again?

Yes, I love playing rugby, it is my passion and will play whenever and wherever I can.

7. Favourite player?

There are so many to choose from but probably Donna Kennedy and Maggie Alphonsi.

Growing up watching my dad, I loved the fact that he would throw himself into the big tackles and looking on as a young child he seemed fearless. That was inspiring. 

8. Favourite meal?

Porridge - it has to be one of the best things ever invented!

9. Scariest opponent? 

Scariest? I embrace scary/tough opponents. This is a hard question as when you’re on the pitch, it is more a fun challenge when you’re up against someone intimidating and bigger. However, although I have never played against her, my mentor Donna Kennedy (who is the most capped Scotland internationalist with 115 caps and won IRB/World Rugby Women's Player of the Year award in 2005) would be at the top of the list.

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