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Scotland's first professional female rugby player to take break from game to train as a firefighter

By Andrew Henderson

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Scotland’s first female professional rugby player has announced that she will be taking some time away from the sport.

Jade Konkel won her 40th cap for Scotland against Japan late last year.
Jade Konkel won her 40th cap for Scotland against Japan late last year.

Jade Konkel, from the Black Isle and a former Inverness Craig Dunain player, has been a key player for club and country in recent years, having signed for Harlequins in 2018.

However, the number eight has decided to prepare for life after rugby by retraining as a firefighter – a choice that means time away from sport is necessary.

She still has several goals in rugby – not in the least attempting to finally make it to a World Cup representing Scotland.

So her professional career is not over, just on pause, as she explained on social media.

“I’m very fortunate to have something that makes saying ‘see you soon’ so hard,” 27-year-old Konkel posted on her accounts.

“I’ve made some difficult decisions over the last few months, however this is an opportunity I couldn’t turn down.

“I’m extremely excited to say that I’ll be starting my firefighter training with the London Fire Brigade.

“I’m really looking forward to an exciting future ahead, but it does mean that I’ll be taking some time away from rugby.

“I’m not hanging the boots up just yet. I’ll be seeing you on the other side!”

Konkel’s last match for the time being at Harlequins was a low-scoring 7–6 defeat away at Exeter Chiefs on February 6.

She had missed more recent games due to being in isolation, but leaves the club in second spot in the Premier 15s, in the title hunt at one point behind leaders Saracens.

As a prominent figure at Harlequins, Konkel will undoubtedly be missed, but head coach Gerard Mullen thinks the squad will cope well in her absence.

“When I came into the club over the summer, it became immediately obvious to me that Jade was a hugely motivated, determined individual,” Mullen told the Harlequins website.

“I know she will thrive in her training as a firefighter. I’d like to thank Jade for all her efforts to date, and I know I speak for the whole club in saying we wish her nothing but the best.

“We’re thankful to have a number of great back rows at the club, and I know that competition for places will only become fiercer in the back row as we finish the season.”

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