Having endured name-calling at school for being the only girl on the rugby team, reaching 50 international caps in Parma on Saturday was a proud moment for Scotland wing Rhona Lloyd.  

The treatment she received from other students Tynecastle High School nearly prompted Lloyd to walk away from the game altogether, but she was convinced to keep going and was rewarded with a Scotland debut while still a teenager against England in 2016.  

Eight years later, she hit the half-century as Scotland recorded a first win in Italy for 25 years in the Guinness Women’s Six Nations.  

The winger explained why she took up the sport.  

She said: “Sarah Quick had been in to school - she was playing for Scotland at the time - and I think it was the team value of it and being able to work together.  

“A lot of my best friends are in this team which is amazing. Some of those people - Lisa Thomson, Sarah Law, Emma Wassell - I've been playing with to this day.” 

Scotland Rugby News: Rhona Lloyd and Lisa Thomson made their Scotland debuts together and now both have more than 50 capsRhona Lloyd and Lisa Thomson made their Scotland debuts together and now both have more than 50 caps (Image: SNS)

When Lloyd, now 27, first picked up a rugby ball, she admitted dealing with some of the comments from others was difficult, but hopes that has changed for girls who now want to take up the sport.  

“I was having a hard time because I was playing rugby,” she said 

“It was the stereotypical stuff 'it's a man's sport' - that was the narrative back then. 

“There was a time I was pretty set on quitting but the likes of Eric Jones and Bruce Aitchison that kept me in the sport.  

“I'm so thankful they did because I've got no idea what my life would look like. 

“I’d like to think it's changed massively and I'd like to think girls who are playing rugby in high school now are going through a different thing.” 

She also revealed she considered quitting the sport after playing in the 2021 Rugby World Cup – played in 2022 due to the pandemic – due to the financial implications involved.  

Scotland Rugby News: Rhona Lloyd in action for ScotlandRhona Lloyd in action for Scotland (Image: SNS)

Lloyd said the introduction of professional contracts changed all that. 

She added: “Professionalism has really changed what your career looks like. I remember thinking I would retire after the World Cup because it's a big sacrifice financially to play for your country.  

“The [contracts] has changed things and you can think about making a career out of it.” 

While she’s now no plans to hang up her boots any time soon, Lloyd knows she’ll need to be in it for the long haul if she is to emulate the achievements of Donna Kennedy, who won 115 caps and is Scotland’s most-capped player, male or female, of all time.  

Lloyd added: “That was at a time when you were playing five games a year. It's an incredible feat and inspires us all massively.  

“It's taken me eight years to get to 50 caps so I'm definitely not thinking that far ahead.” 

But she did admit the women’s game has undergone huge changes since her debut in front of a few hundred fans at Clyde’s Broadwood before a men’s under-20s match.  

Lloyd continued: “I definitely did not think that professionalisation would happen in the time I was playing.  

“It’s such an exciting time in women’s sport - I think we’ve seen that with the crowds we’ve had at home, the crowd at Twickenham last weekend, and even in women’s football. It does feel like women’s sport is exploding and I feel really lucky to be competing at this time.”  

And she was pleased to mark her 50th cap with a vital Six Nations win, while also honouring team-mate Emma Wassell, whose mum Pauline passed away earlier this month.  

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Lloyd said: “Although it was my 50th cap, we knew that, with where we wanted to go in the Six Nations, getting a win against Italy was essential.  

“It was a tough week for us with the news of Emma Wassell’s mum, and I guess it was very much about making Emma proud and getting the win for Scotland.  

“It was just really nice that my 50th cap coincided with what was a really historic win for us, but there were definitely a lot bigger things to focus on.” 

Lloyd will hope to sign off her eighth Six Nations campaign with a win over Ireland on Saturday, a result that could all-but secure qualification for next year’s Rugby World Cup.