Fourteen or so months ago, a lot of Scotland rugby supporters had not heard of Caity Mattinson, but they certainly know about her now ahead of the TikTok Women’s Six Nations.
Given that she won seven caps for England between 2017 and 2018, if things had been different, the 26-year-old scrum-half might have been lining up for the home side in this coming Saturday’s match at Kingston Park in Newcastle.
However, in early 2022 the player - and Scottish Rugby - took advantage of World Rugby’s laws and Inverness-born Mattinson now has nine Scottish caps to her name, is a key member of their squad and will be in the away dressing room at the weekend.
Since she switched allegiances, she has helped Scotland reach a Rugby World Cup for the first time in 12 years, played in a Six Nations and played at a World Cup.
She also represented Team Scotland at sevens at last summer’s Commonwealth Games in Birmingham and Mattinson told TRU: "It’s been a complete whirlwind. I absolutely could not have predicted that this would be how the last 12 months or so would be for me.
“I have absolutely loved it. It has changed my life for the better and I’m so proud to be involved with Scotland and I’m excited for the future.
“This year in the Six Nations, we want to win games. There is definitely no shying away from that being the goal. Some of the losses last year were by really small margins and we have to convert our opportunities this time around.
“We have three games coming up home [versus Wales, Italy and Ireland] in front of hopefully a packed DAM Health Stadium. We can do it and the crowd could be a difference-maker.
Having played in Canada for the past year, @EnglandRugby international @caitymattinson will be joining @WorcsWarriorsW for the 2020/21 season.— Talking Rugby Union (@TalkRugbyUnion) June 4, 2020
Reunited with former @EUWRFC coach @Joyapp9, Caity told TRU why the sides fortunes will be improving.https://t.co/q8oKGul6tD pic.twitter.com/qsaCnY7Eqb
"It is definitely exciting [seeing seven uncapped players in the wider squad]. It is really important that people are constantly coming through and pushing others to get better. It is up to the players who have been around a bit longer to pull the others up as quickly as possible.
“It is very exciting - especially with new coaches [Martin Haag and Chris Laidlaw have joined head coach Bryan Easson’s coaching panel] too - there is a real buzz about the group.
“It is also absolutely huge [having 28 players now contracted by Scottish Rugby including Mattinson], more than anything it is helping with recovery time.
“There is only so much training you can do in a day, but being able to rest and recover is crucial. I was coaching as well as playing last year, so I was on my feet all day from 8am until 9pm, o having the contract makes a huge amount of difference.”
For most of the Scotland squad, Saturday will be the first time they have ever played at Newcastle Falcons’ ground.
However, Mattinson knows it well.
“I played all of my youth rugby at Tynedale which is one of Newcastle’s feeder clubs,” she explained.
“I also played for Northumbria University and we played all of our home games at Kingston Park, so it is a ground I know very well and lots of people I know will be cheering us on given my connections to that area.
“I am super excited to get the chance to play there for Scotland.”
As well as starting ‘game week’ on Monday ahead of the big match with the Red Roses, Mattinson also got the good news through that her club side Worcester Warriors will be playing in the Premier 15s in 2023/24.
In December, Warriors Women were left out of the initial line-up of Premier 15s competitors going forward, but after several discussions with the Rugby Football Union, they were issued a conditional offer in February based on their partnership with Cube International.
ICYMI: Your Warriors have formally secured our place in the @Premier15s!— Worcester Warriors Women (@WorcsWarriorsW) March 21, 2023
We're here to stay and we’re ready to take on any challenges that come our way. #ChampionYourWarriors?? #WarriorsFamily
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And a club statement on Monday said: “Warriors Women now begin an exciting new phase with a strong identity and culture, providing high-class rugby which inspires and empowers the community by being authentic and successful on and off the field.”
And Mattinson added: “It is a weight off for sure knowing that the club’s future is secure. I really enjoy being down there. My relationship with [director of rugby] Jo Yapp is really, really good and she gets the best out of me, so it is good news for me and the other Scotland girls that are down there.”
Although Scotland getting knocked out at the pool stage of last year's World Cup in New Zealand was not how Mattinson wanted things to go, it did allow her to become the number one Canada supporter for a few weeks.
That is because her partner Paige Farries was starring on the wing for Canada in the tournament and Mattinson cheered her and her teammates on in their quarter-final win over the USA and then in their agonising semi-final loss to England.
“It was really special. Paige had an outstanding tournament for Canada and when we are at home, we are always driving each other to be better,” Mattinson said.
“It was quite emotional, especially to see them lose the semi to England, but they put in a performance they could be proud of, especially with the lack of funding they have. I was super proud and it was good to be there as a fan.”