Rugby (Women)

Join our successful Rugby Performance Programme for Women.

Women's rugby team huddling on pitch

One of the most highly regarded of its kind in the UK, the University of Edinburgh Performance Sport Programme enables athletes to achieve a world-class degree and perform to the best of their ability.  The University of Edinburgh Women's Rugby Programme prides itself on developing players with potential and a positive attitude into performance athletes. In return for your dedication and hard work, we will offer you world-class training facilities and support to allow you to be the best you can be:

  • 1 Full-time Head Coach
  • 5 Assistant/Support Coaches
  • Full-time Strength & Conditioning support
  • Academic support
  • Performance lifestyle support
  • Nutritional advice
  • Mental skills training and assistance
  • Access to the world-renowned FASIC Sport & Exercise Medicine Clinic
  • Detailed individualised video analysis and GPS data
Ladies Rugby player Meryl Smith

Since coming to the university, the unwavering support from the coaches and support staff has enabled me to perform to my greatest ability, both on the pitch and in my studies

Eva Donaldson

Playing at Edinburgh I feel privileged to be a part of such a supportive community within my studies and sharing the best moments alongside my team mates

The 1st XV compete in the BUCS National League. The competition sees the top 6 universities in the UK battle it out over the course of the season in a league format, followed by a knockout cup competition.

A selection of our recent successes:

  • BUCS National Championship Finalists 2021/22
  • BUCS National League Winners 2019/20
  • BUCS Championship Finalists 2019/20
  • BUCS Premier North 3rd Place 2018/19
  • BUCS Championship Quarter-Finalists 2018/19
  • BUCS Premier North Winners 2017/18
  • BUCS Championship Semi-Finalists 2017/18
  • BUCS 7s Tournament Runners Up 2017/18
  • BUCS Championship Winners 2016/17
  • BUCS Premier North Winners 2016/17
  • BUCS 7s Tournament Winners 2016/17
  • BUCS Premier North Runners Up 2015/16
  • BUCS 7s Tournament Runners Up 2015/16

Alongside our BUCS successes, many of our players are involved in national programmes and play in international squads. Most recently, this has included:

  • 4 players and 8 Alumni playing in Rugby World Cup, in New Zealand
  • 12 Players involved in Scotland Senior Futures Squad
  • 4 players involved in Scotland U18 Squad
  • 2 Players and 6 Alumni, involved in Scotland 7s squad at Commonwealth Games 2022
  • 1 player represented Sweden at Senior International 7s in Rugby Europe World Cup Qualifiers
  • 5 Alumni selected for the GB wider squad for Rugby 7s at the Tokyo Olympics
Edinburgh City


Edinburgh mixes architectural beauty and history with a lively, fun environment and has regularly been voted as one of the most desirable places to live in the world. As part of our Performance Programme, you will develop your athletic and academic skills in tandem, competing for one of the United Kingdom’s best sporting higher education institutions and studying at a university that is consistently ranked in the top 50 in the world:

  • Over 650 degree programmes
  • Flexible study
  • Ranked 10th in the UK for graduate employability by the Times Higher Education, Global Employability Ranking 2018

Find out more about studying at Edinburgh

We support elite athletes during the University application process by crediting athletic attainment.

Find out more about our Elite Athlete Policy:

Elite Athlete Policy

Claire Cruikshank, Head of Performance Women's Rugby

Head of Performance Rugby, Claire Cruikshank

Claire, has been a coach at Edinburgh University since 2011. During her time she has led the club to ground-breaking success.

A former player herself, Claire has played for Scotland in both the Women's World Cup squad in 2006 and European Championships Squad in 2000. She played for Murrayfield Wanderers for 10 years and was made Captain in 2005-06 where she lead the team to SWRU League, Cup and National 7s titles.

Claire is UKCC Level 3 Qualified and has been coaching for over 15 years. Some highlights of her coaching career include:

  • 2007-2008: Scotland Women U18 Assistant Coach
  • 2008-2010: Scotland Women Academy Coach
  • 2010-2012: Scotland Women U20 Assistant Coach
  • 2010, 2012 & 2016: Scottish University Women 7s Head Coach
  • 2010: GB Students 7s Assistant Coach, World University Games
  • 2013-2014 & 2016-2017 University Of Edinburgh Coach of the Year
  • 2017; Scotland U18 Girls Coach, School Games
  • 2017-2018; Scotland Women’s U20 PDP Programme
  • 2018-2019; Scotland Futures U18 & U20 Coach; Kicking Development
  • 2019-Present: Head Coach Sweden National Women's 15s
  • 2020: Selected for World Rugby Women's High Performance Coaches Gold Programme (30 coaches in the world)
  • 2022 - Present: Head coach for the Sweden Women's 7s Squad
  • 2022: Scotland Women's Rugby, World Cup coaching intern for New Zealand

Ready to tackle the challenge?

We are always looking for ambitious, academic athletes to realise their potential with us. Our aim is to train, develop and retain some of the finest rugby talent in the country. We look forward to welcoming the next generation of rugby players to our Performance Programme and hope to hear from you soon.

Claire Cruikshank

Head of Performance Women's Rugby

Contact details