Major teams: Worcester
Test span: 1993-2010
The world record caps holder in the women’s game with 115, Donna Kennedy’s legacy is not just down to her longevity but also the leadership and tenacity she brought to her many years in the Scotland shirt.
Ending her hugely impressive international career with an eighth-place finish at the 2010 World Cup may not have been quite how the standout Scot would have wanted to bow out, but her career at the highest level remains hugely impressive.
Kennedy made her debut in 1993 against Ireland in what was Scotland’s first women’s International. A year later, the Scots hosted the 1994 World Cup and that event, won by England, provided the platform for women’s rugby to take root north of the border.
That Kennedy, then 38, was part of the tournament in 2010 was something of a surprise because the back-row had retired from the game after the previous tournament in 2006. But she was persuaded to rethink for the following year’s Six Nations, before announcing her retirement again a year later. She just couldn’t stay away!
Kennedy, who won the IRB Women’s Personality of the Year award in 2004, was at the forefront of setting high standards for her country. It was no coincidence that her career in the back row coincided with an era where Scotland were often feared for their prowess up front, with Kennedy regarded as one of the toughest players in the game.
She has made a successful transition to top-level coaching as head coach of Women’s Premiership side Worcester and has also been involved in numerous Scottish national team set-ups.
Regardless of whether her caps record is ever surpassed, as a huge servant not just for her country but the entire women’s game, Kennedy is a true icon of the sport.