A look into Donna Kennedy's incredible career
Scotland’s most capped player, Donna Kennedy, is our second guest on new video series Powering Conversation with SP Energy Networks. Host & Scotland captain Rachel Malcolm dives into Donna’s incredible career as a rugby player as well as her achievements off the pitch.
From achieving 115 Scotland caps to her name to coaching the Barbarians and being inducted into the Scottish Rugby Hall of Fame, it’s safe to say Donna has made a huge impact in the game and specifically, women’s sport.
Donna first started playing rugby at the age of 19 in 1991 at Biggar Rugby Club, talking to Rachel on the episode, she said: “Growing up I was very sporty at high school. I grew up in bigger and there was a young farmer's community and we did tug of war.
When Biggar were setting up the women's side, the club thought, right who were we going to ask to potentially come along and start up a women's rugby team? I know we'll ask the tug of war girls!”
After that point, there was no stopping Donna as she went on to record 115 starting caps in the thistle. Donna reflects on her Scotland career: “I think there's a lot of resilience that you have to build in and you've got to be quite a driven individual. The one thing I am proud of about my whole career, to give you an example of how driven I was, all my caps are starting caps – 115.”
“It’s a team sport, there’s absolutely no doubt about that, but for me, I had to have that starting jersey. I wanted to start, I wanted to be the best person being selected for that position so that’s what kept me driven through all that time.”
After making a huge impact in the game as a player, Donna made the transition to coaching in 2010 and admits, it was a tough decision: “Knowing when to stop (playing) in 2010, there was a huge void in my life. I lost a bit of my identity, for me that was quite a difficult time.”
“Personally, I definitely suffered from depression at that time, I really struggled with that transition. I wanted something to fill that void, so I went down the coaching route and that gave me a feel back for the game, to be part of the game.”
She continues, “Coaching for me is always about giving something back to the game. I’ve got so much from the game for so many years, I just wanted to give something back and if that could help one or two players then that’s fantastic.”
Donna’s talent did not go unnoticed while coaching, the former Scotland player received a Barbarians call up to coach the women’s team for their fixtures against the USA Women’s Eagles in Denver in 2019, she reflects on that call-up: “That was fantastic to get the call from Fiona Stockley asking if you want to coach with Anna Richards and go out to America. Well, I didn’t have to think twice about that one! That was a phenomenal experience to be a part of that.”
When asked what advice she gives to anyone looking to get involved in rugby, she said: ““One thing I’d always say to any player is that you’ve got to enjoy what you do.” It’s clear to see the passion Donna Kennedy has for sport as she reflects on her remarkable career with Rachel.
Watch the full interview below and look out for our next episode with World Champion and Team GB wheelchair racer, Samantha Kinghorn, in the new year.