Johnston retires as Olympic Sevens boost rugby interest

Scotland Rugby Sevens star Stephanie Johnstone has retired from rugby after failing to make the final GB Sevens team for Rio.

Johnston, who also won 30 caps for Scotland, produced some impressive performances in warm-up matches as part of the 24-strong training squad.

But she was not selected for the team which missed out on a historic medal, losing 33-10 to Canada in the Bronze medal match, as Sevens made its debut at the Olympics.

Now she hopes to move into coaching and help rugby grow its support among women players.

Johnston said: “The Olympics has been my sole focus for the past few years and in terms of going back to playing sevens and XVs, I feel I have achieved as much as I can.

“I’ve given so much for so many years, now I just need to take a step back and focus on me and see what is next outwith rugby.

“I’ve had some amazing times representing my country – I’ve been to a World Cup and I was privileged to captain Scotland Women 7s for four seasons.

“Winning my first cap is something I will never forget and there’s no prouder feeling than captaining your country.

“Rugby has shaped me and who I am now and it’s taken me all over the world, including Europe, Dubai and Australia. It’s been a massive part of my life for the past decade.”

Johnston made her debut against Italy in the 2010 Women’s Six Nations and started every Six Nations match from 2011 to 2014. A key player in Scotland Women 7s, she captained the side in their debut season in 2012 and went on to score 105 points.

The 30-year-old started playing rugby 10 years ago at Glasgow University and went on to play for Hillhead / Jordanhill then Royal High. In 2013, she moved to Worcester where she played in the Women’s Premiership.

The former pupil of Grove Academy in Dundee, was selected to train full-time with the GB women’s squad last October with the SRU’s backing.

Now Johnston is hoping others will follow in her footsteps as Team GB’s performances at the Olympic Games have inspired over 150 women and girls across Scotland to try rugby.

“The GB girls that went out to Rio are amazing role models and it’s great to see them inspiring women and girls to get into rugby.

“You won’t regret playing rugby. I’ve loved every moment and I hope to stay involved off the pitch and give something back.”

Scottish Rugby Women & Girls’ Development Manager, Sarah Quick, said: “Women’s sevens in Rio has been a fantastic spectacle of sport over the past three days. It’s great to have role models like the Team GB Women to inspire the next generation. The athleticism, skill and passion has inspired women and girls all over Scotland to give rugby a try for the first time.”

For more information see scottishrugby.org