WHEN Emma Clare Wassell runs out on to the wide open spaces of Stadio Giovanni, Legnano tomorrow for the game against Italy, the Corstorphine Cougars lock will be making her 44th appearance for Scotland, which puts her alongside fellow forward Jade Konkel as the most capped player.
The point of difference is that the Ellon born second-row has eared her appearances in conservative games – without missing a single one – since winning her first cap on the opening day of the Six Nations tournament in 2014. A remarkable feat of durability from the 26-year-old.
“I suppose I have been lucky, keeping generally injury free, but then I just hate not to be playing,” she says. “Long may it continue, especially as the World Cup qualifiers are coming up in South Africa in September, followed by the World Cup in New Zealand next year. I just want to be on the plane for these big events, and play with a great bunch of girls who have gelled particularly well over this current Six Nations, and are improving all the time.”
Wassell made her way in the game in her home town of Ellon where her potential was spotted as a 15-year-old at Ellon Academy by Mike Avis, the then head coach of Ellon Rugby Club. “I headed along to the Meadows, my local sports centre, and after my first touch of the ball, I was right into the zone, and knew it was the game for me,” she recalls.
Her time at Heriot Watt University, where she studied accountancy, led to her joining Murrayfield Wanderers before moving on to Corstorphine Cougars where she is a key member of the Edinburgh team, but one day hopes she will have the opportunity to turn professional.
“At the moment there is big gap between England the top UK team and ourselves, but its closing all the time, going pro would make a huge difference. The game at Murrayfield against England was a huge thrill, even though we were beaten 53-0. As our coach Philip Doyle pointed out there were huge positives to be taken from the game which we can take into the remaining games in Italy and in Wales, and the home one against France.”
And finally, the dedication of the second-rower cannot be doubted, as an amateur she works with an Aberdeen company, but travels to training on a regular basis in Edinburgh, and last Monday had to get time off from work to play in the rearranged game against England which was originally scheduled to be played at Scotstoun 24 hours earlier, before flying to London for a business commitment in Canterbury the same day. “It was all a bit frantic, but I am doing something I love, making it well worth it,” she concludes.
Scotland Women will hope that the baby step forward they have taken against Ireland and England so far in this Six Nations, can accelerate into something more significant this weekend, by picking up a first win the in championship since beating Ireland in Dublin in March 2018.