AN ARDROSSAN mum has opened up about how joining Ardrossan Accies Ladies Rugby team has changed her life.

And 32-year-old Marie McKenzie is hoping others will follow in her footsteps and pull on their boots and take up the sport.

As part of Scottish Rugby’s #BeTheBestYou campaign, woman and girls all over the country are talking about their time involved in rugby.

Marie told the Herald: “My partner plays with Ardrossan and has done for most of his life and my son plays for Ardrossan so it was just through that, that I noticed they were running a rugby bootcamp and I didn’t make it the first couple of times because I was pregnant and just after having a baby but I was adamant I was going this year.

“I was doing yoga and I dropped that. I was struggling with depression at the time and I thought I would just give it a go. I just had an incline or something telling me that it was going to help with my depression.”

Maries has three sons aged 12, three and 18 months and hasn’t always been a fan of the sport, she added: “I’d never watched a game of rugby until I met my partner and even then, the only rugby I watched was him. I have been going from July.

“I have noticed a huge changed in my fitness and clothes I haven’t worn in ages fit me, which is nice. I feel within myself that I am stronger than what I thought I was, physically and mentally, I have noticed a difference in every area of my life. Even the wee ones are tackling each other and my partner has been helping me.”

Joining the team in Ardrossan was a bit daunting for Marie but the group of ladies there have helped her be at ease and enjoy the her found hobby, she added: “They have been lovely. I was very, very nervous because I feel like I don’t mix very well and I have had bad experiences mixing with other women.

“I decided to just go for me and they were all very welcoming and really nice and the ones that started at the same time as me, we have a bit of a different bond because we started at the same time.”

Marie has no taken the plunge and after worrying about playing, came off the bench to feature in a competitive fixture for the Accies.

She said: It was terrifying but it was actually exhilarating and I don’t remember anything, I was completely in the moment. I made a tackle, which I was quite proud of but it was scary.”

Marie would urge anyone to go along and give rugby a try, she said: “If you could possibly get the time, go for it. I have actually been trying to recruit people from toddler groups. Cause they are talking about dance and fitness classes and I say to come and try the rugby. Everybody is really quite scared but there is still a stigma about it.

“My mum is really quite good when it comes to the children and she knows how good it is for me. It is a difficult juggle and I have actually had my two-year-old at training but it is worth the juggle.”

Accies Coach Brian Reid said: “Through hard work at training, Marie’s confidence and fitness levels have really come on. She has built herself up from scratch to being able to play rugby and she fits in really well with the squad. She should be incredibly proud of herself.”

Stephen Gemmell, Head of Academy and Performance Programmes at Scottish Rugby, said: “Our #BeTheBestYou campaign has been a great success so far with beginners trying rugby for the first time and loving it.

“It’s great to see clubs across the country backing our initiative, which highlights the positive benefits of playing rugby to women and girls.

“Rugby is a uniquely welcoming sport and we urge new players to get involved regardless of their age or ability.”