A truly remarkable era in Scottish rugby may have ended on Sunday with the retirement of Donna Kennedy on the day she won her 100th cap.

I say may' because friends, colleagues and team-mates to whom confirmation of her intentions was offered in the pub that evening have heard this before. After last year's World Cup, her body battered by the intensity of that tournament, she also declared that she was calling it quits.

Then her resolve lasted weeks before she realised she could still perform better than most and, in any event, the prospect of becoming the first Scottish player of either gender to reach the century mark was within reach.

It was disappointing that the occasion was marked by a defeat, with Scotland unable to defend a 10-point half-time lead against a talented French side, on turning into the wind. Yet, with the French match announcer revelling in her achievement, she took her leave - if that proves to be the case - with head held high.

Not that any result would have detracted from the way a player who has been among the team's chief pranksters is viewed. Something of a force of nature who could initially be intimidating to newcomers to the national squad, she is very much in the Jim Telfer mould, preferring to train as she intends to play and is reckoned to have had at least as many fights with team-mates as opponents.

Even so, she inspires respect, bordering on awe, in those who have been around her.

Which in turn makes this confession time . . . because I have had to catch up on much of this since the weekend. To my personal embarrassment, I have seen very little of the career of a player who has been in the national side since a Scottish women's international team was introduced in 1993, hardly missing a game in the interim.

In those early days, the sport received a boost in this country when, after the Dutch withdrew late as tournament hosts, Scotland staged the 1994 World Cup tournament. That was probably the last time I saw Kennedy play.

At the time, playing standards were moderate. My memory of the 1994 World Cup final was that the American team sought to be lively and stylish, but were beaten by an England pack which, in relative terms, were even more brutish than Martin Johnson & co.

The mind can play tricks in these matters, but there is a vivid recollection of a pushover try from halfway, admittedly achieved in stages but no less appalling a spectacle for that.

Handling skills and techniques were substantially lesser than the lower reaches of the men's game at the time, but those who saw last season's Women's World Cup final know that, in terms of ability and commitment, the sport has moved on.

That underlines just what Kennedy has achieved in out-lasting even her long-time Scotland team-mates Jenny Sheerin and Lee Cockburn, to reach this landmark, developing her game to keep pace with one of the world's fastest improving sports.

While there may be comparisons with Scott Murray, who extended his Scotland men's record to 84 caps in France the day before Kennedy took her bow, the real comparison is with those blokes who played before 1995.

In the amateur era, the record for Scotland caps hovered around the 50 mark for a long, long time because that was close to the maximum that could be fitted into a 10-year career, which, in turn, was about as long as those not paid to play could give up of their working careers.

In terms of the number of caps available, and the commitment required by someone who has to work for a living and fit training in around that, Donna Kennedy's career is better compared to those of the likes of Andy Irvine, Jim Renwick and Sandy Carmichael, all of whom only just passed the half-century.

It was a major disappointment for Scottish women's rugby that Kennedy was overlooked for the World XV which visited New Zealand a couple of seasons ago.

It is no coincidence this happened at around the same time as the lifelong back-row forward was - because the national side was struggling for outside backs and she was in peak condition - dabbling with playing on the wing.

The wrong was righted, though, when she was awarded the IRB women's player of the year award in 2005, marking 14 years at the top in which she has set the highest standards in terms of personal commitment and team ethic.

If she has not yet achieved the legendary status her efforts merit within the Scottish sports community, perhaps we in the media are most to blame. Then again, by the sound of things, there is no guarantee we will not get the chance to mark the occasion when she collects her 150th cap for Scotland.