Rachel Malcolm, Helen Nelson and Christine Belisle have all put pen to paper on new contracts to stay with Loughborough Lightning, the Club can today confirm.
The trio of Scotland internationals have all established themselves as critical players for Club and country over the last few years, and Lightning Director of Rugby Rhys Edwards admits he is ‘delighted’ to have secured their signatures moving forwards.
Malcolm is captain of both Scotland and Lightning, with 38 international caps and 52 appearances in all competitions so far for Loughborough.
She has also scored ten tries for the Club and two for her country in a career which stretches back to 2015 when she took up rugby after also representing Scotland at Under-17, Under-18 and Under-21 level at hockey.
Malcolm has a PhD in environmental physiology, and has a sports and exercise science bachelor’s degree and a masters degree in exercise physiology. She is currently a Lecturer in Applied Sport Science at Nottingham Trent University.
She made her debut for Scotland against Spain in 2016 and first captained the side in 2018.
Edwards said: “Rachel has been here with Lightning from the start, and has captained the team from year one.
“She really sets the standard for us in terms of what it means to be a professional rugby player and also epitomises the ethos of being a Lightning player.”Rhys Edwards, Director of Rugby at Loughborough Lightning
“She’s one of the best captains in the world – her influence for us and her influence for Scotland is clear to see – so it’s massive for us she’s continuing in Loughborough.”
Versatile back Nelson has 41 appearances for Loughborough and 78 points to her name so far, as well as 51 international caps and 139 points for Scotland since making her debut in 2016.
Before joining Lightning, the Inverness-born 29-year-old was in the Scottish Alpine Ski Team between 2009 and 2012, and represented Edinburgh University, Murrayfield Wanderers and Montpellier in club rugby.
“Helen is someone we’ve really seen grow as a player over the last couple of years which is really exciting, and that’s really rubbed off with her performances for Scotland as well,” added Edwards.
“She’s very influential within the spine of our team, and she and Helena [Rowland] have a great combination between them whenever they play together in a Lightning jersey.”Rhys Edwards, Director of Rugby at Loughborough Lightning
“She’s vice-captain for Scotland too so we’re really pleased to have secured her services moving forward as she brings a lot of leadership qualities to the group.”
Canadian-born tighthead Belisle joined Loughborough in 2021, and has notched up 21 appearances for Lightning so far in addition to her 26 international caps with Scotland.
Growing up in Peterborough, she began playing rugby aged 15 and after school moved to Glasgow in 2015, where she represented local side Cartha Queens Park until her move to Loughborough.
Belisle became eligible for Scotland through residency in 2018 and joined the international women’s programme, but was due to injury unable to make her debut until 2019 on the side’s tour of South Africa.
Edwards said: “Christine came to us as a bit of an unknown quantity a couple of years ago, but she’s quietly gone about her business at tighthead and is now well-known as one of the best players in that position in the game.
“It’s a crucial position in any team, and we’re very proud of our set-piece within which she plays a huge role. But she’s not just a scrummager – she gets around the field brilliantly and makes a lot of important impacts on the game which is a real point of difference for her.”