It is just three years since Nicole Flynn first picked up a rugby ball, but she has made great strides in that time, and was on the cusp of an international debut during the Guinness Women’s Six Nations.  

The teenager was named on the bench for the clashes with France and Ireland, and though she didn’t get on and remains uncapped, it has given her a valuable insight into the top of the game.  

“When you’ve been there, you want more,” Flynn, who is studying Biology at the University of Edinburgh, said.  

Part of her success has been down to England legend Emily Scarratt, who is the youngster’s mentor part of the Vodafone EmpowHER project. 

Scotland Rugby News: Emily Scarratt was at Edinburgh University recentlyEmily Scarratt was at Edinburgh University recently (Image: EmpowHER Project/Vodafone)

The project includes a Vodafone-funded bursary, a one-to-one mentoring scheme and access to Vodafone’s Player Connect app.  

While the pair now speak regularly, Flynn admitted contacting Red Roses great Scarratt, who has 111 caps and is England Women’s all-time leading point scorer, was daunting at first.  

She added: “It was a bit nerve wracking at the start, but just having someone of that experience at my doorstep.  

“At first I did did think ‘how do I even send that first email?’ but her profile picture on the app was a rubber duck and I like ducks as well, so that helped!  

“We decided we’d WhatsApp each other so it’s quick feedback and that works for the both of us, which has been good because we’ve had busy schedules.” 

While the majority of the Scotland squad are now full-time professionals thanks to investment from Scottish Rugby, Flynn still had to juggle being in camp during the Six Nations with her university studies.  

She said Scottish Rugby helped her to find a balance during her first senior international camp.  

The 18-year-old said: “We came back from Ireland and I had to sit exams that week. It has been hard but I’ve managed it. I might not have studied as much as I should have." 

While she’ll have to wait to win her first cap, selection for Scotland represents the latest stage of a meteoric rise for Flynn, who only picked up rugby after falling out of love with her childhood sport, swimming.  

She explained: "I had been swimming since I was six but I wasn’t enjoying it as much as I should have. I knew someone who was playing rugby so decided to give it a go at Stirling County.” 

That proved to be a good match – after excelling for the age-group sides at Bridgehaugh, she went on to win the Scottish Premiership title, then moved to Edinburgh University where her performances earned her a call-up for the inaugural Edinburgh women’s team.  

She also welcomed news earlier this month of a further expansion to the Celtic Challenge.  

"It’s really good for players to be able to show what they can do on a bigger stage,” she added. 

Scotland Rugby News: Nicole Flynn said the Celtic Challenge helped bridge the gap between the club game and Test levelNicole Flynn said the Celtic Challenge helped bridge the gap between the club game and Test level (Image: SNS) 

“Alex played in all of the Six Nations games, Merryn [Gunderson] played really well and got in the Scotland squad, then Cieron [Bell] scored loads of tries. It’s really good for all of us to show what we can do.  

“It was a good middle ground because the gap between the Premiership in Scotland and international rugby is quite big. It made it a lot easier to step up and fit right in.” 

Flynn believes constantly having to step up to a higher level helped her cope in the Scotland squad.  

“I’ve not had a constant team but it is really driving my development moving up. I’ve had to sink or swim and right now I’m swimming.”