Playing at Twickenham will be a special moment for every women’s player involved in this weekend’s game between England and Scotland.
For flanker Charlie Veale, the game will take on every more resonance as shell be lining out for Scotland just a mile up the road from the family home she grew up in.
Veale is playing in her first season of international rugby having caught the eye of the Scotland coaches playing for London Wasps and qualifying through her Scottish mother.
Veales rise to the international arena has been quick and impressive. Having only taken up the game seven seasons ago she has risen through the ranks of lower league club rugby with Hammersmith and Fulham the team her sister founded to becoming a key player at Premiership side Wasps.
While there were flirtations with the English representative set-up Veale made it to the Super 4s its only the past year that time has freed up enough for her to dedicate herself more heavily to the sport and its paying instant benefits.
I have always played because I enjoyed the game and my motivation up to now was improving my skills and fitness and becoming good enough to be consistent for Wasps. I played county and regional rugby and took part in the Super 4s but at that stage I was full on with my studies and didnt really think about going any further and the opportunity didnt come up either. Now that I am more settled in my career (as a Sports Lecturer at Kingston University) Im in a position to balance things out better and I have been able to dedicate a lot more time to rugby.
Though playing for England may have been what she imagined if she ever dreamt of playing at Twickenham as a child, Veale, whose parents now live in Dunfermline in Scotland, is thoroughly embracing her new side.
Everyones been very welcoming and friendly and there is a good mix in there of new and experienced players so I certainly dont feel like the new girl.
Its been a whirlwind few months for Veale, who trialled for the squad just a couple of months ago, as shes been involved in every game so far for the Scots. The key difference shes found between club and international rugby is the intensity she says:
Its a much more intense standard on the pitch and off it too. For me, its all happened very quickly. I came into the squad at the start of the year and it was straight into the 6 Nations so the whole thing has been full on between the training programme, travelling up and down and the games themselves. There are a good few other new faces as well so we are having a shared experience. It has been really good for me though to come in and get straight into it. It is a massive challenge but it is definitely making me much more driven about how I prepare, what gym work I am doing and pushing myself to become a better player on the pitch.
As much as this year has been a baptism of fire for this young Scottish team, who are yet to win in the competition, Veale says there are lots of plus points for her side.
The France game was a tough opening match but though the score-line obviously wasnt great, we took a lot from the match and there were some positives. It was our first game together as a squad, with a new coach and a new environment so we had to get through it and learn from it. There have been positives from every game because we have improved in various areas in every game. We are learning how to work as a team together and our defence is an area we are working pretty hard on.
Everyone here understands that we are at the start of a four year process but we also do need to progress in every match and we are getting there.
Playing at Twickenham, the stadium she could almost see from her garden growing up, will be special she says for everyone involved.
We know we have a tough task ahead but we are genuinely excited about playing there. The atmosphere will be great.
And will it be strange to face the team that she has for most of her life cheered on?
It might be for about a minute but thats it. After the whistle goes I am playing for my team and my teammates and doing everything I can to help us get a result.
See HERE for the Scotland team named to play England this weekend.
Images thanks to Rugby Matters - see HERE for more.