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Skipper Malcolm expecting ‘exciting game’ as Lightning round off the season

Captain Rachel Malcolm cannot wait to step out onto the field for Loughborough Lightning for the 50th time in the Allianz Premier 15s, when they take on Saracens at cinch Stadium at Franklin’s Gardens on Saturday. 

Malcolm, who signed a new contract with the Club this week, has been involved with Lightning since the inauguration of the competition in 2017, and is one of the most influential figures in their squad. 

It has already been a season to remember for the 32-year-old as she began the campaign by captaining Scotland through what turned out to be a game-changing World Cup for women’s rugby last autumn. 

She has since skippered Loughborough through what has been a challenging season, but Malcolm believes the future is bright for a team that is a work in progress under Director of Rugby, Rhys Edwards. 

She said: “It’s obviously an honour to play for Loughborough Lightning, it’s an honour to have had the opportunity to do it 50 times and to have also captained the squad since we began.

“It’s a massive honour but I just feel extremely lucky that I get to do it with an incredible bunch of players, people that I can call my friends.”

Rachel Malcolm

“That’s what I think makes representing Loughborough so great is the people you get to do it with, so I’m excited to run out and hopefully put on a good show at Franklin’s Gardens.” 

Such camaraderie, along with the progress made at the Club thanks to the partnership with Northampton Saints, was why Malcolm felt it was an easy decision to extend her stay with Lightning. 

Already one of the experienced heads in what is overall a young squad, she is shouldering yet more responsibility following the retirement of her fellow back rower Sarah Hunter. 

However, playing alongside talented young forwards such as Sadia Kabeya, Lilli Ives Campion and Daisy Hibbert-Jones makes her excited over what the future has in store. 

Malcolm said: “I’ve obviously been a part of Loughborough Lightning since day dot, it’s a place that holds a close place in my heart. 

“Before I played rugby for Loughborough, I also played hockey here for seven seasons, so it is somewhere that I hold very close to me. 

“I’m really passionate about what we’ve achieved with Loughborough Lightning, but I think with the partnership with Saints I’m really excited about what we can achieve in the future as well. 

“It was a pretty straightforward decision and I think the people we have here are pretty special, so it’s a cool opportunity to keep working with them.” 

Loughborough’s players will go into their match against Premier 15s champions Saracens fresher than they would have expected after last week’s fixture against Worcester Warriors at Epinal Way was postponed. 

It is unclear whether that game will be replayed, with Lightning using their final run-out of the season at the Gardens as an opportunity to say farewell to the players who are departing in the summer. 

Malcolm also sees the match as a great test for her side, saying: “Saracens have got threats everywhere, they play a really physical up-front game – their pack are renowned for how dominant they can be. 

“They also have some explosive backs and they’ve got good kicking options, so they have threats all over the park.

“It will be a really exciting game, I think for us we just need to focus on ourselves because this is our last opportunity to play for Loughborough Lightning with this specific group.”

Rachel Malcolm

“Obviously, the end of the season means players will move on and there will be some changes, so we just need to focus on ourselves and play the best we possibly can. 

“It’s going to be super important for us to front up as a pack in particular to allow our backs the opportunity to play and also nullify the threat that their pack brings. 

“Both teams will be looking to move the ball and play, so it will be pretty exciting game for the fans.” 

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