Jade Konkel joins top French club

Scotland Women star Jade Konkel is set to join one of the top female French clubs next season. 

A partnership between Scottish Rugby and Lille Metropole Rugby Club Villeneuvois (LMRCV)  will see Konkel play in the French Top 8 – the country’s elite women’s rugby competition.

She will remain a Stage 3 player in the BT Sport Academy and be available for Scotland Women selection.

Villeneuve d’Ascq, based in northern France near Lille, were crowned Top 8 champions in 2016 and were runners up in this year’s final against Montpellier.

Konkel said: “This is a great opportunity for me to develop on and off the pitch in a completely different environment.

It’s going to be a massive test for me personally but I’m really excited about spending the next year in France.

“I went out to Lille before making this decision and liked what I saw. I follow the Top 8 and have played against France Women so have a fair idea of what to expect over there.

"French players are known for their physicality and they have a philosophy of keeping the ball alive so for me, as a big ball carrier, I think the move will benefit my game.

“The BT Sport Academy has pushed me over the past two seasons and becoming the first full-time female player in Scotland last summer was a dream come true.

"I’m grateful to Scottish Rugby and Lille for working together to make this next step possible.”

Since her debut for Scotland Women in 2013, Konkel has earned 27 caps and played against France on five occasions.

The back-row helped club side Hillhead Jordanhill lift the Sarah Beaney Cup in April and featured in Scotland Women’s wins against Wales and Italy in this year’s Six Nations - their first victories in the Championship since 2010.

The 23-year-old was also named player of the match in the narrow loss to Ireland after scoring two tries.

Head of Academy and Performance Programmes, Stephen Gemmell, said: “We will continue to support Jade as she remains a Stage 3 player in the BT Sport Academy for the coming season.

This partnership between Scottish Rugby and LMRCV is for one year initially and provides the next step in Jade’s development. It’s a great opportunity for her as a player and for us as a governing body.

"Having one of our players sought after by a top French club speaks volumes for our women’s programme and the work that has gone into creating the foundations to develop our elite female athletes.”

Head of Women’s & Girls’ Rugby, Sheila Begbie, said: “This is a fantastic opportunity for Jade to further develop her rugby while also gaining valuable life experience in another country. She is absolutely dedicated and we will work closely with LMRCV to ensure she keeps improving.

“This is also recognition of the investment Scottish Rugby has put into developing the women’s game through the BT Sport Academy and the national team programme.

“We will continue to focus on improving the quality of our talented female players while also increasing support for the club game over the coming seasons.”