W6N 2022: Scotland Team Preview
By: Jackie Finlan, The Rugby Breakdown
The Scotland women’s rugby team has cause to celebrate the previous 12 months.
It began with a 5th place finish at the 2021 women’s rugby Six Nations tournament, and ended with a berth to the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand. Now, it’s time for Scotland to funnel all of that good energy into the TikTok Women’s Six Nations Championship, which begins March 26, 2022.
The women’s rugby Six Nations took a truncated form in 2021, as the field was divided into two pools of six. Scotland dropped its opener to England 52-10 and second pool game 41-20 to Italy, but salvaged the spring with a 27-20 win against Wales to finish fifth overall.
Approximately four months elapsed before the Scotland women’s rugby team was back together again, and the September 2021 assembly had major implications: Women’s Rugby World Cup qualification. Ireland, Scotland and Spain reported to host Italy, where a round robin tournament evolved. The Scottish struggled against Italy again, losing by a larger margin (38-13) than in the teams’ previous meeting. Meanwhile, Spain beat Ireland 8-7.
In round two, Scotland beat Spain 27-22, channeling all the pressure into round three. Ireland was riding the momentum of a 15-7 win against Italy, and despite a 13-5 halftime deficit, responded with a try and two penalties: 18-13 to Ireland. In the waning moments, the incomparable Chloe Rollie scored the tying try and Sarah Law coolly kicked the extras for the 20-18 final.
Scotland's Evie Wills scores a try despite the presence of Maria Isabel Arzuaga during the Rugby World Cup 2021 Final Qualification Tournament decider with Colombia at The Sevens Stadium in Dubai on 25 February, 2022. (Photo by Christopher Pike - World Rugby/World Rugby via Getty Images)
Italy had beaten Spain and thus advanced directly to the world cup. Runner-up Scotland still had a pathway to New Zealand, and ran through Dubai in February 2022, the final qualifier.
Prior to that fixture, Scotland Women’s Rugby contested one Autumn test, but it was an important one, as the hometown crowd had yet to see its team play in 2021 due to the pandemic. Japan visited in mid-November, and ran out to a 12-10 halftime lead, even with a red card disadvantage. The home side rallied in the second stanza, as Rollie, Megan Gaffney, Lisa Thomson and Rhona Lloyd all scored tries, while Helen Nelson added the conversions: 36-12 the final.
The win marked Scotland’s third-straight, and head coach Bryan Easson wasn’t going to mess with a good thing for the final Rugby World Cup qualifier in Dubai.
“I think it was important to look at the team that played against Ireland and Japan as we’ve got good consistency with this group at the moment,” Easson had said of the Dubai-bound squad.
“We’ve got real depth within our group, so it’s a testament to those starting this weekend but also to those on the bench who have been pushing them hard for places.” Fourteen players who had started against Ireland returned to the starting lineup for the Feb. 25, 2022, match against Colombia. That starting XV averaged 34 test caps each.
Thomson, Gaffney (2), Lloyd, Law, Jade Konkel, Lana Skeldon, Evie Wills and Molly Wright scored tries in the 59-3 win. Law added another 12 points off the tee, and Nelson also kicked a conversion. The victory also meant that Scotland, for the first time in 12 years, had booked its place in the Rugby World Cup.
Scotland winger Megan Gaffney runs in for a try during the Rugby World Cup 2021 Final Qualification Tournament decider against Colombia at The Sevens Stadium in Dubai on 25 February, 2022. (Photo by Christopher Pike - World Rugby/World Rugby via Getty Images)
“I am so proud of the team, this has been a long journey, but now we are going to a World Cup and we are so happy,” Easson said.
“I was pleased with how we controlled this game and now we can start building towards New Zealand." And that build flows right into the women’s rugby Six Nations tournament. Scotland will start with the number one team in the world, England, and that March 26 test will gauge the progress made since the teams’ last meeting a year ago. The Scottish can take those lessons into the subsequent four matches, and then reorient sights on the southern hemisphere.
Name - (Club/Position/Caps)
Shona Campbell (Edinburgh University/Wing/2)
Abi Evans (Darlington Mowden Park/Wing/15)
Megan Gaffney (Loughborough Lightning/Wing/39)
Coreen Grant (Saracens/Center/1)
Sarah Law (Sale Sharks/Fly-half/48)
Rhona Lloyd (Les Lioness du Stade Bordelaise/Wing/33)
Caity Mattinson (Worcester Warriors/Scrum-half/1)
Jenny Maxwell (Loughborough Lightning/Scrum-half/36)
Mairi McDonald (Hillhead Jordanhill/Scrum-half/7)
Liz Musgrove (Watsonians/Wing/10)
Helen Nelson (Loughborough Lightning/Center/37)
Emma Orr (Biggar/Uncapped)
Chloe Rollie (Exeter Chiefs/Full-back/45)
Hannah Smith (Watsonians/Center/30)
Meryl Smith (Edinburgh University/Full-back/Uncapped)
Lisa Thomson (Unattached/Center/40)
Evie Wills (Stirling County/Fly-half/3)
Leah Bartlett (Loughborough Lightning/Prop/12)
Christine Belisle (Loughborough Lightning/Back-row/12)
Sarah Bonar (Harlequins/Lock/25)
Lisa Cockburn (Worcester Warriors/Prop/23)
Katie Dougan (Gloucester-Hartpury/Tighthead/23)
Eva Donaldson (Edinburgh University/Flanker/1)
Evie Gallagher (Stirling County/Back-row/8)
Jade Konkel (Harlequins/Back-row/49)
Rachel Malcolm (Loughborough Lightning/Back-row/24)
Rachel McLachlan (Sale Sharks/Back-row/24)
Louise McMillan (Hillhead Jordanhill/Back-row/31)
Lyndsay O’Donnell (Worcester Warriors/Back-row or second row/15)
Jodie Rettie (Saracens/Hooker/18)
Lana Skeldon (Worcester Warriors/Hooker/48)
Emma Wassell (Loughborough Lightning/Lock/52)
Alison Wilson (Heriots/Prop/Uncapped)
Molly Wright (Sale Sharks/Hooker/10)
Anne Young (Edinburgh University/Prop/1)
Scotland players celebrate qualifying for Rugby World Cup 2021 following a 59-3 defeat of Colombia in the Rugby World Cup 2021 Final Qualification Tournament decider at The Sevens Stadium in Dubai on 25 February, 2022. (Photo by Christopher Pike - World Rugby/World Rugby via Getty Images)