Merryn Gunderson’s rugby journey has not been plain sailing since she started at Forrester Rugby Club as a four-year-old.  

After progressing through the ranks at Forrester, she moved to Craigmount High School, but she admitted there wasn’t much support for her rugby ambitions.  

But she never let it get in her way, moving to Edinburgh Harlequins and now Corstorphine Cougars.  

Such has been her form this season, she was named in the Scotland squad for the Guinness Women’s Six Nations.  

The 20-year-old back-row also claimed the Women’s National League Player of the Season at Scottish Rugby’s Community and Recognition Awards at the weekend.  

READ MORE: Reaction from the winners at Scottish Rugby club awards

After picking up the award, she reflected on her rugby journey so far.  

She said: “I started my rugby when I was around four or five at Forrester rugby club and my dad set up the mini section there. 

 “I went through the minis there and then play at Murrayfield Wanderers before moving to Edinburgh Harlequins and Corstorphine Cougars. 

She added: “From there I have made it through to Edinburgh, so it has been a whirlwind of different teams, but lots of learning.” 

Scotland Rugby News: Merryn Gunderson was part of the inaugural Edinburgh squad during the Celtic ChallengeMerryn Gunderson was part of the inaugural Edinburgh squad during the Celtic Challenge (Image: SNS)

Being part of the Edinburgh and Scotland squads is a far cry from Gunderson’s time at Craigmount, where she admits there was not much support for a rugby-playing girl.  

READ MORE: Teenage star eyes Scotland cap thanks to Red Roses mentor

She added: “There wasn’t a rugby team at all, so there was nothing there rugby-related. I was probably the only girl in my year that played rugby. 

“For the school and others to understand that sport and rugby was the way I wanted to go, I don’t think I got as much support as I perhaps could have." 

She is determined girls now – including the school’s current cohort – don't have the same experience.  

“That makes me determined,” she added.  

“I have been talking about maybe going back into Craigmount and helping push rugby so that local girls have that option and support because I never really had that.” 

While admiting she enjoys the physicality of the back-row Gunderson said family – both her own and the wider rugby community – were big reasons behind her desire to play the game.  

 “Everyone always talks about the ‘family’, but it really is like that, and the support network is massive.” 

The Gunderson family were at Scottish Gas Murrayfield on Friday night as Merryn was presented with her award.  

“It is a great privilege to win the award and be here and collect it,” she said.  

Her call-up into the Scotland squad has also given her plenty of confidence for the future.  

“It was quite unexpected given that I have only come through the pathways this season, but it was massive for me.   

Scotland Rugby News: Merryn Gunderson training with Scotland during the Women's Six NationsMerryn Gunderson training with Scotland during the Women's Six Nations (Image: SNS)

“Being in and around that environment has helped me set my goals for the next season ahead and get a feeling for what it is like being involved at the top level. 

“It has given me the insight into what the Scotland coaches are expecting and now I can look to bring that out and build on to hopefully push on and get a cap.” 

She’s taken inspiration from long-time team-mate Alex Stewart, who was one of Scotland’s stand-out performers in the championship.  

READ MORE: Alex Stewart can be 'world class' after Scotland breakthrough

"It makes me realise that a cap is within touching distance seeing someone who is around my age and who I have played with starting for Scotland,” Gunderson continued.  

“It is down to me to pull that through now, keep performing and go the last wee bit to get myself a cap.”