Tracy Balmer retires on a high

Tracy Balmer has announced her retirement from international rugby following Scotland Women’s most successful season since her debut in 2011.

The 34-year-old tighthead prop made the decision to hang up her boots at the end of this year’s Women’s Six Nations campaign.

She earned her 43rd test cap in the 14-12 victory against Italy at Broadwood Stadium in front of an elated home crowd. It was the first-time Scotland had beaten Italy since 2009 and also marked two wins in the championship since 2006.

Speaking after the match, Balmer said: “It’s the best feeling to go out on. Words can’t describe it.

“To come away with two really good wins is fantastic.

This team is starting to grow in confidence and we are working our way back even if teams score against us we are not folding, we have the mindset that, ‘no we should win this game’.

“It’s really pleasing to see the young players starting to believe in themselves.”

Scotland secured their first win in the Six Nations since 2010 in the third round against Wales (15-14), following a narrow defeat to Ireland in their Championship opener.

Balmer said: “This season is a big stand out for me because I’ve seen such a shift in the attitude of the players.

“I’ve also seen a change in the way Scottish Rugby has pushed us forward and there has been a shift from being amateur to professional in a sense.

This season has been so much more fun for me as everyone is on the same page and, of course, we’ve won two games. Hopefully we will finish fourth so that’s two jumps up from every six nations I’ve played in.”

Head Coach Shade Munro paid tribute to Balmer made her debut against Spain in 2011 and has played in every Six Nations game since.

Munro said: “She’s been a brilliant servant to the women’s game. She’s been through thick and thin with this team. She’s worked extremely hard and been one of the senior players who has stepped up since I came on board.

“It’s great she’s finishing on a high with two wins.”

Balmer is going to remain in rugby but shift her focus to coaching after gaining her UKCC Level 3 qualification.

“My next goal is to get as far as I can in my coaching career,” she said.

“I’ve always had to do my coaching alongside my playing, which has come first so I now need to build up my experience. It’s the right time for me to retire and leave the shirt in a better place. 

“I’ve always played rugby to the highest point I could so I would find it strange to just go and play club and not do anything else.

“I don’t think I’ll miss the early morning gym sessions but I will miss the team. I’ve got some great friends in the squad and I know I’ll miss them, especially when they’re all back in camp.”