SARAH BONAR has revealed how being granted elite athlete status by the RAF has given her the opportunity to focus full-time on rugby during the build-up to this Autumn’s World Cup. 

The extent to which the Scotland women’s squad is being supported during the build-up to the tournament has been under the spotlight in recent weeks. Murrrayfield says that 35 players are currently on “individual packages that suit their lives” although what exactly these arrangements look like in practice remains shrouded in mystery. 

After losing their first three matches of their 2022 Six Nations campaign, Scotland return to action on Saturday when take on also winless Italy in Parma, with their opponents boosted by last week’s news that the Italian Rugby Federation has given an extra investment of 350,000 euros to help 25 of international squad members during the lead-up to the World Cup. 

Bonar believes that Scottish Rugby are also moving in the right direction in terms of professionally supporting their top female players but is understandably delighted that her own situation is settled for the time. 

“I have now been given elite athlete status by the RAF so they are fully supporting me to train and play rugby full-time in order for me to be in the best place I can be when the World Cup comes around,” said Bonar, who decided to follow her long-standing dream of joining the military during lockdown. 

“I got the big tick from the Royal Air Force last month, I have a year or two [as an elite athlete] and then they will review it and, if I am still playing and competing at the same level, I may be allowed to continue on the scheme.  

“I missed the England game in round one of the Six Nations as I was on RAF duty, but I was playing for them [versus the Navy] at that time, so I was just in a different shade of blue.  

“Now I am pretty much a full-time rugby player. I will be moving to the RAF base at Odiham, near Basingstoke, soon and I can go in on my off days to keep my [RAF] skills up, but in terms of my actual duties they are to play rugby in the run up to the World Cup.  

“The forces are brilliant with sportsmen and women and the RAF have been really supportive, pushing me to be the best athlete I can be going into the World Cup.”