SARAH Quick’s longstanding relationship with Murrayfield Wanderers makes every trophy she contests for them that bit more special.
The 26 year-old from Edinburgh has played for her home club since she was 12 years old and tomorrow, as club captain, she will lead her team at Murrayfield in the final of the Sarah Beaney Cup, the showpiece event in the women’s rugby calendar.
Murrayfield Wanderers are the dominant force in this event – they are defending champions and are looking to clinch their 13th victory in the competition.
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The Edinburgh side are favourites to once again take the title but they will take on their great rivals, Hillhead/Jordanhill in what promises to be a typically tight match.
However, Quick is confident that she can add another cup win to her already illustrious cv.
“We’re all really excited about the final – we played against them in the league earlier in the year and it was a really, really close match,” the Murrayfield captain says.
“That one came down to the last play of the game so hopefully this match will be as exciting as that. We’re feeling confident though – we’ve got a really exciting back line so as long as the forwards give them the space, I think we can be dangerous.”
Despite being relatively youthful, Quick is already beginning to wind down her playing career.
To date, she has amassed a raft of club titles as well as 28 caps for her country but having always had a passion for coaching, Quick made the decision to take a step back from rugby at the highest level.
She retired from the international scene last year and while it was entirely her choice, she admits that watching her former national teammates battle it out on the greatest stage of them all is still taking some getting used to.
“It does feel very odd not playing for Scotland,” she admits. “I really miss playing for the national team – I miss the competitiveness and having something to train towards on a really high-performance level.”
Quick is having no trouble filling her time though. Her move away from playing at the top level was to enable her to move into the coaching arena. It is a world that she has long had a desire to inhabit and over the past few years, has coached university teams in an attempt to build up experience.
Her foresight has been rewarded. In recent months, Quick has become one of three women who has been invited to join Scottish Rugby’s Female Coach Mentoring Programme and even in these early stages, she is already seeing the benefits.
“It’s a very personalised programme and extremely in-depth,” she explains. “We did a lot of analysis work at this year’s Six Nations and we’re going to Ireland for the Women’s World Cup later this summer too so that will be an amazing experience and really valuable. Then after the summer, we’ll be assigned mentors and we’ll go out and continue our development next season in a coaching environment.”
The importance of this female coaching programme cannot be overstated.
As with many sports, female coaches are heavily outnumbered by their male counterparts and so in order to develop the women’s game further, the number of female coaches, especially at the highest level, must be increased.
Quick was one of the lucky few who grew up working with female coaches – Murrayfield Wanderers had coaches such as ex-internationalists Rhona Shepard, Beth MacLeod and Claire Cruikshank on their books – and this made her aware of the importance of having females in these vital roles.
“Working with female coaches through the youth set-up really inspired me to get into coaching myself,” she says. “I was lucky to be at a club that had female coaches but not all clubs are the same so if we can get more women into coaching across the board then that could have a big impact.
“I think it’s really important for young girls to have women to aspire to so if women are in influential positions like a coaching roles then I really think that will benefit the game massively.”
Quick only became involved in rugby because, as a 12-year-old, her skiing training was cancelled and she was dragged along to drop her older sister off at a rugby session at Murrayfield Wanderers. After the coach coaxed her somewhat reluctantly from the car, she became hooked and has never looked back.
Quick has now been immersed in rugby for well over a decade and has seen first-hand the transformation in the women’s game in that time.
In her day job as Scottish Rugby’s Women and Girls Development manager, she is charged with expending the game but what has made her job easier is the improved performances of the national team.
“The game has come on so much since I first got into the sport,” she says. “But there’s so much progress that can be made and there’s still a lot more we can do and that’s really exciting.”