Over 400 days and counting: Strategic 10 Sarah “is good to go”

 By Gary Heatly

Over 400 days have passed Scotland’s Sarah Law last played a competitive game of rugby – and given that she has an Applied Maths degree it is perhaps no surprise that Head Coach Bryan Easson thinks she could tell you exactly how long it has been – to the hour – since she took to the field.

When scrum-half turned stand-off Law, now 26, earned her 42nd cap for her country in the snow against England on February 10 last year, the Penicuik RFC, Murrayfield Wanderers and Edinburgh University product could not have imagined it would be April 2021 when she would next lace the boots up.

The pandemic hit and then she suffered an achilles injury which saw her miss Scotland’s return to action last October with a draw against France.

She was an unused replacement against England in the 52-10 loss in the Pool A opener in Doncaster on April 3, but with Hannah Smith on GB Sevens duty, Helen Nelson has moved to 12 for this weekend’s crucial clash with Italy at Scotstoun.

That means that Law, who made her debut way back in 2013 aged 18, has been recalled at 10 and she is looking forward to it.

“One thing you don’t need to worry about is her confidence, she knows her rugby inside out and she is the one around the squad who has serious rugby knowledge,” the Head Coach said about Law.

“Her ability to play 9 and 10 is really important and she could tell you exactly how many days it is since she last played rugby, 400 and something, indeed she could probably tell you to the hour because she loves the game that much.

“What she does as a 10 is that she sees things like a chess game, she moves the pawns around the pitch well and she is a 10 in the women’s game who can think two or three phases ahead rather than phase by phase. With her and Helen at 10 and 12 they are both confident rugby players and a good combination.

“Sarah is desperate to get going, it has been a long time since she played and she’ll be fine. She had an achilles injury last year, we just had to monitor and modify her recovery, but she has really pushed on in the last few months.

“Sarah is good to go, is ready to start and can play 80 minutes if required.”

Law coming in at 10 is one of four changes to the starting XV from the last outing.

Also in the backs, Liz Musgrove replaces Rachel Shankland on the wing while, up front, tighthead prop Megan Kennedy returns from a slight shoulder injury to start with Christine Belisle ready to make an impact off the bench.

At 6, with regular skipper Rachel Malcolm out, Kennedy’s Stirling County team mate Gallagher makes her first start at this level having impressed off the bench in England.

Backs Evie Wills (Stirling County) and Coreen Grant (Saracens) could debut off the bench while the shuffle in the midfield means that Nelson is Captain from 12 and her Vice-Captain Lisa Thomson is at 13.

Easson adds: “We will be looking to build on the positive aspects of our performance against England, particularly our set piece and resilience on the pitch.

“I was really impressed with our ability to put England under pressure in that second half, but we will now be looking for the players to bring that form for the full 80 minutes against Italy and turn the pressure into points.”

Whoever wins will finish second in the pool ahead of Finals Day on April 24.

Thanks to Rugby People and Scottish Rugby/SNS for the main photos

Scotland v Italy takes place in the Women’s Six Nations on Saturday, April 17 at Scotstoun in Glasgow with a 5pm kick-off and is live on the BBC iPlayer