Annabel Sergeant: Fraud, hockey sticks and a lot of money

Sergeant v Italy
Annabel Sergeant will earn her 24th cap against Wales on Friday
Six Nations: Scotland v Wales
Venue: Scotstoun Stadium, Glasgow Date: Friday, 8 March Kick-off: 19:35 GMT
Coverage: Live on BBC Alba, updates on BBC Sport website and BBC Sport app

Disappearing during training to answer emails about risk analytics is not what you'd expect from your average Scotland international.

But then again, your average Scotland international wouldn't be cracking down on seven-figure computer fraud investigations either.

For 30-year-old Annabel Sergeant, the winger knows no different as she continues to balance a high intensity job and playing rugby at the highest level.

Sergeant began playing rugby at university in 2006, and five years later earned her first cap off the bench in the Six Nations opener against France.

After moving to New Zealand for work in 2015, three years later the Heriots winger returned to Scotland and worked her way back in to the squad.

Scotland are without a win this campaign, however face Wales at home on Friday, with both Scotland head coach Shade Munro and Wales head coach Rowland Phillips describing it as a 'cup final'.

Here, Sergeant tells BBC Scotland about fraud, balancing acts and persuading her mum that being hit by a stick was "probably worse" than being hit by a body.

'Close to millions'

Sergeant is a long way, literally and metaphorically, from the life she led in New Zealand working in forensic data analytics.

Before moving back to Scotland and reviving her international rugby career, the 30-year-old was a trouble-shooter for high profile computer fraud investigations.

"There was one in New Zealand where there was a guy who had changed all the bank account numbers in the system," Sergeant told BBC Scotland.

"They had lots of employees and they thought something funny was going on, but they didn't really know what.

"When we went in and looked at it, we saw that the employee was changing the bank accounts of people who were leaving the company to his own bank accounts.

"It looked like the company was still paying these people - they obviously didn't check that they were still paying ex-employees, but actually the money was going to him," Sergeant added.

"He had been doing it for 10 years because they were just so trusting of him. You could see all the patterns once you got the data.

"It was only when he was leaving when they realised. It was a lot of money - I can't remember. Close to millions. It was a lot of money."

Trading hockey for rugby

Now back in Scotland, Sergeant has left the fraud behind as she works as a risk and data analytics manager while juggling her career playing rugby for Scotland.

And like many other professional women rugby players, Sergeant has had to use all of her annual leave to attend the Scotland training camp whilst taking part in the Six Nations.

"You've got two professions and you're trying to give your time to everybody," said Sergeant, who will earn her 24th cap as Scotland play Wales on Friday night.

"But obviously you can't. I'm still trying to get that balance between working full time and playing rugby full time.

"At the beginning when I first moved back from New Zealand I was trying to do both. I was running from the training session, answering calls, sending emails and people were chasing me for things. Then the coach is asking what I'm doing as we are supposed to be in a team meeting and I'm just all over the place.

"I'm trying to manage my time better. I'm getting better at that now."

Growing up, Sergeant always had rugby on her mind. But with no girls playing the sport at her school, it wasn't until she was a 17-year-old student when she was approached by a woman on the street asking if she wanted to give it a try.

"I think my mum was a bit worried. She said: 'Oh you're going to get injured', but I said, 'I've been playing hockey'.

"I know hockey's not contact, but you could get hit with a ball or hit by a stick. And that's probably worse than a body."

Scotland team: Rollie, Lloyd, Smith, Thomson, Sergeant, Nelson, Grieve, Kennedy, Skeldon, Forsyth, Wassell, Bonar, Malcolm, McLachlan, Konkel

Replacements: Rettie, Cockburn, Dougan, Howat, McCormack, Maxwell, Martin, Evans

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Women's Six Nations: Wales hope for first win against Scotland

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