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In the spotlight: Scotland lock Emma Wassell

In the spotlight: Scotland lock Emma Wassell

‘Ever-present’ is defined as ‘something or someone that is always there’ – in the case of Scotland Women, Emma Wassell fits the description perfectly.

Since making her debut against Ireland on the opening weekend of the 2014 Championship, Wassell has not missed a Scotland match. To put that into context, that means 43 consecutive international appearances, 41 of them starts – tallies the 25-year-old will be eager to add to upon the resumption of the Women’s Six Nations this weekend.

“It’s been pretty special to be involved the whole way through,” she told RugbyWorld.com in March, shortly after this year’s Championship had been put on hold.

“There has been an element of luck. I’ve had injuries but I’ve been managed extremely well; there have been times I’ve been hurting but not hurting enough not to play. I’ve missed a bit of club rugby, but not international.”

Wassell’s record is particularly impressive given her rugby journey only began at the age of 15. Previously a keen gymnast, the Aberdeen-born star decided she wanted to try a team sport and began playing rugby “for a bit of a laugh”, as she told BBC Alba earlier this year.

And while the fun element has never gone away, the new pastime soon became a more serious commitment.

“From that first session onwards, I have never not wanted to play,” she said.

“You make a few big hits and think ‘I can do this’.”

Wassell’s progress was swift and having been identified as one to watch, she became involved in the Scottish age-group pathway, representing the Under-19s Sevens squad in 2013 and playing for the Under-20 side in the same year.

A full international bow followed in the 2014 Championship and the rest is history, with Wassell establishing herself as an integral part of the Scottish pack in every international since.

Scotland have not always had it all their own way in the Women’s Six Nations since her debut, however, with four winless Championships – including last year – and just three victories.

“The last Six Nations (in 2019) wasn’t great for us,” Wassell told BBC Alba.

“We want to do the best we can and we will go into every game looking for a win. We want to put in performances, whether that’s a win or a loss, to show we are making the right steps forward.”

Signs of progress were apparent on the opening weekend of this year’s Women’s Six Nations as Scotland pushed Ireland all the way in Dublin before going down 18-14, with Wassell going over for her side’s second try.

A disappointing 53-0 defeat at home to England followed before the Championship was paused and Scotland will hope to get themselves on the board across the three games that remain under interim coach Bryan Easson.

First up is the visit of France to Scotstoun on Sunday, with Wassell named in Easson’s 25-player squad, before a trip to Cardiff to take on Wales on November 1.

The clash against Italy on December 6 takes on extra significance as not only is it the Championship finale, it also represents the first match of the World Cup 2021 qualifying tournament.

Scotland will also battle it out with Ireland and one of Spain, Russia and the Netherlands as they look to qualify for their first World Cup since 2010.

The second-rower combines her rugby commitments with working as a chartered accountant in Aberdeen and will hope her own impressive numbers continue to mount in the coming weeks.

She is closing in on a half-century of caps and has scored three tries for her country to date, while also proving a reliable presence at the set-piece and breakdown.

And having successfully come through shoulder surgery over the summer, Scotland’s mainstay is raring to go once more.

Could Wassell make it to 50 international appearances without missing a game? If the previous six and a half years are anything to go by, it would take a brave person to bet against it.