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RWC 2021 – Final Qualification Tournament

Cumbernauld, UK. March 11, 2016. Action from Scotland Women vs France Women in the Six Nations Championship at Broadwood Stadium, Cumbernauld. (c) ALASTAIR ROSS | Novantae Photography Photo Credit: Alastair Ross / Novantae Photography

In just over a week’s time, Scotland Women will take to the field for one of the biggest matches they will have ever faced. At stake – in a winner takes all encounter – is a place in this autumn’s World Cup in New Zealand.

The Scots’ place in the Final Qualification Tournament in Dubai was sealed by a truly remarkable finish to the European playoffs last September. The dark blues kept their RWC dreams alive through a final minute try by Chloe Rollie and a nerveless conversion by Sarah Law with the last kick of the game.

With Scotland not having made it to a World Cup since 2010, that superb victory against Ireland has created a huge opportunity to return to rugby’s top table.

The Squad

Props

  • Leah Bartlett (Loughborough Lightning)
  • Christine Belisle (Loughborough Lightning)
  • Lisa Cockburn (Worcester Warriors)
  • Katie Dougan (Gloucester Hartpury)
  • Anne Young (Edinburgh University)

Hookers

  • Lana Skeldon (Worcester Warriors)
  • Molly Wright (Sale Sharks)

Locks

  • Sarah Bonar (Harlequins)
  • Louise McMillan (Hillhead Jordanhill)
  • Lyndsay O’Donnell (Worcester Warriors)
  • Emma Wassell (Loughborough Lightning)

Back rows

  • Eva Donaldson* (Edinburgh University)
  • Evie Gallagher (Stirling County)
  • Jade Konkel (Harlequins)
  • Rachel Malcolm (c) (Loughborough Lightning)
  • Rachel McLachlan (Sale Sharks)

Scrum halves

  • Mairi McDonald (Hillhead Jordanhill)
  • Caity Mattinson* (Worcester Warriors)
  • Jenny Maxwell (Loughborough Lightning)

Stand offs

  • Sarah Law (Sale Sharks)
  • Helen Nelson (Loughborough Lightning)

Centres

  • Coreen Grant (Saracens)
  • Meryl Smith* (Edinburgh University)
  • Lisa Thomson (Sale Sharks)
  • Evie Wills (Hillhead Jordanhill)

Back 3

  • Shona Campbell (Edinburgh University)
  • Megan Gaffney (Loughborough Lightning)
  • Rhona Lloyd (Les Lioness du Stade Bordelaise)
  • Liz Musgrove (Unattached)
  • Chloe Rollie (Exeter Chiefs)

* Denotes uncapped player

Squad stats

Average age – 26.0

  • There are just 3 players aged 30+ with the vast majority of this squad young enough to play through to the 2025 RWC.

Average caps – 21.0

  • There are 3 uncapped players and another 6 with fewer than 10 caps.
  • Emma Wassell is the only 50 capper in the selection but Scotland’s squad has at its core 11 experienced players with 30 or more caps whom the side can really be built around.

Clubs – 67% of the squad play for clubs in the Allianz Premier 15s

  • 8 players are based in Scotland – with half of that number from Edinburgh Uni.

Key player

Some of Jade Konkel’s stats while playing for Scotland are frankly staggering. During the 2020 Six Nations, she averaged 26.0 carries per 80 minutes. Among the 132 other players who played at least 80 minutes in that tournament, no one else managed more than 16.7 carries per 80.

Jade missed the 2021 tournament as she was training to become a firefighter. She returned for the crucial European qualifiers where she was a focal point in attack for Scotland and a dominant force on the gain line.

With Jade in the number 8 jersey, the Scots came back from an opening round defeat against Italy to down first Spain (for just the second time in a decade) and then Ireland (for the second time in 15 years) to clinch their place at the Final Qualification Tournament and keep the dream of making it to the World Cup in New Zealand alive.

Miscellany

Emma Wassell has played in 51 consecutive matches since making her debut v Ireland during the 2014 Six Nations championship.

Rhona Lloyd has notched at least one try in each of her last four appearances for Scotland, including tries in all three games at the Europe Qualifiers in Italy.

Caity Mattinson is looking to make her Scotland debut but already has 7 caps for England – including an appearance in a 43-8 win over the dark blues at Scotstoun in 2018! If she features in Dubai she will be the first Scottish player to take advantage of the World Rugby amendment to allow switching of nations.

Scotland are looking for a fourth consecutive win. This would be the first time they have won four Tests in a row since 2010.

The Opposition

World rankings:

  • Scotland – 9th
  • Kazakhstan – 15th
  • Colombia – 26th

Previous fixtures:

  • 04/09/2006 Scotland 32 – 17 Kazakhstan

Scotland have never played a Test match against Colombia.

Format

Originally, Scotland were scheduled to play a semi-final against Colombia before a final versus one of Kazakhstan, Samoa or Hong Kong. The withdrawal of the latter two sides has simplified the tournament down to just a pair of fixtures.

As the highest ranked team, the Scots will await the result of Kazakhstan v Colombia to decide who they will meet in the final – where the winner will seal that all important World Cup place.

Saturday 19 February 2022 at 12:30 GMT

Kazakhstan v Colombia

Friday 25 February 2022 at 15:00 GMT

Scotland v Kazakhstan or Colombia

TV coverage

Scotland’s game will be live on BBC ALBA (link here). While the Friday afternoon kick off time might not be ideal this will be well worth a watch for those that can manage. There haven’t been too many one-off fixtures with so much riding on them in recent history for Scotland Women and the chance is there for this group to achieve something really special.

Absent Friends

The Final Qualifying Tournament will see Scotland play for the first time since the tragic death of Siobhan Cattigan at the end of November. The Stirling County back row had been a big part of the squad since making her international debut in 2018.

Back in September, it was her intervention that won a penalty to end nearly five minutes of pressure as Spain sought the try that would have won them the game – and knocked Scotland out of contention in the Europe Qualifier.

In Dubai her teammates – her friends – will no doubt want to celebrate Siobhan and what she contributed to the national side. While a win and progress to the RWC might pay some small tribute, more important is the group coming together and hopefully just enjoying the bonds they have made and the opportunity to play rugby together.

Donations to a legacy in Siobhan’s name can be made here.

4 Responses

  1. Lot of quality in this squad. No Hannah Smith – she injured?

    Looks like it’s going to be Colombia in the final. Taking down Spain and Ireland in September were absolutely brilliant results, totally unexpected. Going in against Colombia is a completely different challenge – being favourites, against a team they don’t know as well, and has already played a game in this environment. They should win, and I hope they do – this team deserves a World Cup experience.

    1. Hannah Smith is suspended unfortunately.

      Yeah you’d guess Colombia will chuck everything at it. Hopefully Scotland play to their potential and show what a good team they can be.

  2. Fantastic opportunity for the team. They’ve worked so hard to give themselves this chance and they absolutely have the talent to take it. As Angerine says, they deserve a place at the WC.

    Also good to see it’s televised on FTA and god bless working from home on Friday ;-). My diary has strangely become full of ‘meetings’ that afternoon.

    Go well ladies.

    As a small aside, ‘Les Lioness du Stade Bordelaise’ has to be one of the best team names in any sport!

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