Where are they now? Charlotte Scanlan


Nearly a decade ago, playing professional sevens was a pipe dream for most women, but that didn’t stop Charlotte Scanlan from chasing the dream.


In 2013 Scanlan was among the first group of female professional rugby players in New Zealand. Nineteen of New Zealand's top women's sevens players were awarded professional contracts. 


“I knew I wanted to do footy as a career even though it didn’t pay for much of my career,” Scanlan said.


“I chose jobs that would let me off for footy. I worked in hospitality and then rode a bike for New Zealand Post which helped keep me fit. 


“In 2013, I left my job a couple of months before the contracts were announced. That was scary with no regular income but when I got one it was all worth it. The early days were intense. The girls were training all the time and there was lots of heavy lifting and running.”

Charlotte Scanlan


“I’m not super quick, but my work ethic got me in. When I was younger I was known for my running and fend. When I got older I was more known for my defence.” 


Scanlan was a member of the New Zealand team that won the 2014-15 World Series. New Zealand won four of the six tournaments, with Scanlan featuring in three wins in Dubai, Brazil and Canada.


“I was lucky enough to run in a couple of tries on my debut against China in Dubai. That was a good confidence boost. We won the tournament which was an insane feeling. Tournaments are emotionally and physically draining and when we won I cried.”



New Zealand beat Australia 19-17 in the 2014 Dubai final with Sarah Hirini (2) and Tyler Nathan Wong scoring tries.


Better came in Sao Paulo, Brazil when Scanlan joined Portia Woodman (2) on the scoresheet in a 17-10 victory over Australia. She described Brazil as “beautiful,” a stark contrast with Canada where disaster struck, despite another success for New Zealand.


“I dislocated my shoulder while being tackled against Fiji. It happened at the worst time. I didn’t get re-contracted which was as much about timing as it was ability. That was a tough time mentally.


“When I was in the team I hung out with people like Ruby Tui and Gayle Broughton. They were the life of the party, good vibes, quirky, positive people. Huriana Manuel is an icon. She was so supportive in my rehab and taught me so much about being a professional athlete without her even knowing it.”


Following her time in the Black Ferns Sevens, Scanlan played professionally for four years in Japan with Yokohama TKM in both fifteens and sevens. 


She was born in Wellington but grew up in Feilding with her adopted parents Shelly and Dave. She first played rugby at intermediate but “got serious” at Feilding High School. 


In her last year of college in 2006, the first XV won the local championship and she debuted for Manawatū. She was classmates with All Blacks Araon Smith and Sam Whitelock who she tussled with in bullrush.


After 15 games for Manawatū her rugby went to another level when she moved to Auckland and helped the Storm win two National titles in 2013 and 2014.


At the Ponsonby club she played alongside Black Fern heavyweights Linda Itunu, Eloise Blackwell, Aleisha-Pearl Nelson and Charmaine McMenamin. 


An accomplished league player, she represented the Kiwi Ferns at the 2013 World Cup. In 2021 she joined the first ever Newcastle Knights women’s team in the NRL. 


Scanlan is a feisty prop/lock and was top tackler for her side with 139 tackles in five games. It was a disruptive season with all games played in 2022 due to Covid. 


"The competition is definitely growing. I went to a couple of media days and I haven’t seen numbers like it before. The level of professionalism and skill is growing. Newcastle is rugby league mad. It’s intense and amazing to see another sport thriving.”


Scanlan had worked as a community co-ordinator at the Warriors. She was part of teams who went into primary schools to deliver programmes, including one focused on nutrition, hydration and sleep. 


Professional sport has taken Scanlan around the world. She even participated in La Tomatina, the infamous Spanish tomato throwing festival where her renowned fend wasn’t enough to suppress an irritable, “well-trained local kid.”


The Black Ferns Sevens take on England, USA and Fiji in pool play at the Canada Sevens this weekend, with their opening game against England kicking off at 4.52am on Sunday morning (NZT).



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