Rugby World Cup: Scots not going to New Zealand to make up the numbers – let’s hope those involved in women’s game are bold and brave as new era begins

By Gary Heatly

Scotland only just qualified for the women’s Rugby World Cup on Friday, but head coach Bryan Easson is already planning for the big event in New Zealand that starts in October, stating “we are not going there to make up the numbers”.

The Scots made sure of their place at the showpiece event – their first outing on that stage since 2010 – with a comprehensive 59-3 win over Colombia in the final qualifier in Dubai.

The squad returned to these shores early on Saturday and were at BT Murrayfield watching the men against France in the Six Nations.

And now Easson says the hard work ahead of the World Cup starts this coming week.

His charges, ninth in the world rankings, will be up against the hosts (second in the world), Australia (fifth) and Wales (11th) in Pool A at the 12-team event with the latter first up on October 9 at the Northland Events Centre in Whangarei.

“I will start again on Monday and plan accordingly where this group can go, we are going to be working hard,” Easson said.

“When you look back at where this group of players have come from in the last 18 months, they can go on and do that again and get better again.

“We are not going to a World Cup to make up the numbers, we are going there to compete and the levels have to go up – and can go up. We are a proud nation and we have proud players who want to go to a World Cup and show what they are all about.

“I just feel proud of these guys – they’ve been exceptional. A lot of them have been involved since the 2013 and 2017 World Cup qualifiers. There’s been a lot of ups and downs, so it’s pride that I feel for everyone and I know that we can get even better.”

Skipper Rachel Malcolm adds:  “The performance against Colombia was clinical and puts down a marker, I think it’s something we’ll push on from now, now we’ve got momentum.”

Last year, after performing well at the T20 men’s World Cup in Oman and the UAE, Scotland men’s cricket captain Kyle Coetzer said he wanted the squad – and those involved in growing the sport off the field in this country – to be “bold and brave”.

And let’s hope that happens in women’s rugby in Scotland now, one the squad take belief from qualifying and don’t rest on their laurels and kick on and two those involved at Scottish Rugby use the next seven and a half months to really take the game to new heights in terms of exposure.

There are so many great role models in the squad with stories to tell that can inspire the next generation – now is the time to grab hold of that.

And, after a World Cup qualifying process that had more ups and downs than a fancy rollercoaster, it is fitting that the last word is from Rachel Malcolm on her team mate Siobhan Cattigan who passed away in November aged 26.

The squad lay her shirt down in front of them before the anthems at The Sevens Stadium and the skipper said:  “It was something we talked about lots as a squad in the build-up. We wanted to pay our respects to Siobhan and we wanted her out there to finish the journey that she started with us.

“That’s what that signified. It was a really emotional moment for us as a team, but something really passionate that we wanted to do for the team and for Siobhan and for her family.”

The World Cup takes place in October and November in New Zealand and Scotland will take on the hosts, Australia and Wales in Pool A of the 12-team tournament

The squad are pictured at BT Murrayfield on Saturday by Scottish Rugby