Scotland aiming to hit the ground running in New Zealand on return to big stage

Scotland are ready for the World Cup - and Bryan Easson is excited to lead them to New Zealand
©Rugby People

Scotland’s women have not been at a Rugby World Cup since 2010, but that does not mean the current squad are just heading to New Zealand to make up the numbers.

The 32-strong playing group and support staff will fly out to the southern hemisphere for the showpiece event on Friday, September 23 and are already focused on the first Pool A match with Wales on Sunday, October 9 at the Northland Events Centre in Whangarei.

With eight quarter-final spots up for grabs from three pools, it means that two third-placed teams will make it through and Scotland head coach Bryan Easson believes his charges have to aim high.

“We are aiming to hit the ground running, that is the big thing for me,” Easson told TRU this week as his squad was officially announced.

“We probably couldn’t have handpicked the pool any better because you want to go to a World Cup and play the southern hemisphere sides.

“To play New Zealand in New Zealand is very exciting and we have also got Wales and Australia who we can really go for and put our best foot forward.

“They [Wales and Australia] are the first two games so we will know what we are doing and needing in terms of quarter-finals by the time we get to the New Zealand match.

“The most important thing for us is to prepare and be as ready as we can be for game one against Wales and the way we are going and the way we are training we are pretty confident going into that game.”

Scotland only narrowly lost to Wales (24-19) in the Six Nations earlier in the year - a game they could and perhaps should have won - while Easson’s side are ranked 10th in the world and Wales ninth.

It will be a massive game for both sides and an intriguing contest for sure.

Skipper: “Rachel has been brilliant to work with”

Apart from Lisa Cockburn and Jenny Maxwell (both knee injuries), the squad that will travel named by Easson is as strong as it can be.

One of the easiest decisions he had to make was naming Loughborough Lightning back-row Rachel Malcolm as captain.

“Rachel has been brilliant to work with in terms of myself,” Easson explained.

“We work together closely on and off the field. The way Rachel conducts herself on the field speaks for itself. The way her performances are, well you saw against the USA recently in the first game in a while that she was outstanding.

“It was not just in the way she carried ball, but defensively and the way she spoke to the group. That carries on from Monday to Sunday. That carries on within sessions. That's within team meetings.

“It was a simple decision [to name her captain] and it is a privilege for me to work with Rachel and I think it is the same for the players as well. She has a lot of respect.”

Young team: “Although they are young, they are really mature in terms of what they bring to the game”

The Scotland squad has 775 caps in it and five players - Jade Konkel-Roberts, Lana Skeldon, Emma Wassell, Sarah Law and Chloe Rollie – are half centurions.

They will be key for Scotland at the big dance, but so too will be the youngsters who are coming through.

Centre Emma Orr at 19 is the youngest while players like Elliann Clarke (21), Evie Gallagher (22), Anne Young (22), Shona Campbell (21), Meryl Smith (21) and Evie Wills (21) are all breaking through.

“I have been really impressed by them,” Easson said about the ‘young team’ as they are known within the group.

“We [himself and skipper Malcolm] were actually just talking about the young ones and just how exciting they are to coach and play with.

“Although they are young, they are really mature in terms of what they bring to the game.

“They are pushing the more experienced players to train harder and we were going to go into the Test match with Spain [which was cancelled] having made 11 changes from the US as we have got that many players we can call on now and I don’t think that would have been possible two, three, four years ago and that is down to these young players and what they are doing.”

Easson has confirmed that his coaching team at the event will be made up of himself, Tyrone Holmes (defence), Ross Miller (set piece and defence) and Claire Cruikshank (World Rugby coaching intern).

Scotland squad for the World Cup


Leah Bartlett (Loughborough Lightning) – 18 caps

Christine Belisle (Loughborough Lightning) – 18 caps

Sarah Bonar (Harlequins) – 31 caps

Elliann Clarke (Edinburgh University) – 1 cap

Katie Dougan (Gloucester-Hartpury) – 16 caps

Evie Gallagher (Worcester Warriors) – 13 caps

Jade Konkel-Roberts (Harlequins) – 53 caps

Rachel Malcolm (Loughborough Lightning, C) – 30 caps

Rachel McLachlan (Sale Sharks) – 29 caps

Louise McMillan (Saracens) – 37 caps

Lyndsay O’Donnell (Worcester Warriors) – 16 caps

Lana Skeldon (Worcester Warriors) – 54 caps

Jodie Rettie (Saracens) – 17 caps

Emma Wassell (Loughborough Lightning) – 57 caps

Molly Wright (Sale Sharks) – 15 caps

Anne Young (Heriot’s Rugby) – 2 caps


Shona Campbell (Edinburgh University) – 7 caps

Megan Gaffney (Loughborough Lightning) – 44 caps

Coreen Grant (Saracens) – 1 cap

Sarah Law (Sale Sharks) – 52 caps

Rhona Lloyd (Les Lionnes du Stade Bordelais) – 39 caps

Caity Mattinson (Worcester Warriors) – 6 caps

Mairi McDonald (Hillhead Jordanhill) – 8 caps

Liz Musgrove (Watsonians) – 10 caps

Helen Nelson (Loughborough Lightning, V-C) – 43 caps

Emma Orr (Biggar) – 4 caps

Chloe Rollie (Exeter Chiefs) – 50 caps

Eilidh Sinclair (Exeter Chiefs) – 18 caps

Hannah Smith (Watsonians) – 34 caps

Meryl Smith (Edinburgh University) – 3 caps

Lisa Thomson (Sale Sharks) – 46 caps

Evie Wills (Hillhead Jordanhill) – 3 caps