RWC: “Emotional” meeting with ex-players has Malcolm and co pumped up

By Gary Heatly

Scotland captain Rachel Malcolm has revealed an “emotional” meeting with former national team players has her squad pumped up for the upcoming Rugby World Cup.

Head coach Bryan Easson named his squad of 32 players for the showpiece event in New Zealand in October and November on Thursday and apart from Lisa Cockburn and Jenny Maxwell (both knee injuries) it as strong as it can be.

This is the first time Scotland have been at a World Cup in 12 years since the event in England in 2010 as the country failed to qualify in 2014 or 2017.

Loughborough Lightning back-row Malcolm, 31, will lead from the front this time around and she said:  “We met a number of the ex-players at the weekend and it was really emotional and moving to hear their stories.

“We talk a lot about us leaving a legacy and to leave a legacy you have to understand what has come before you. To hear their stories and how much playing for Scotland meant to them, well it meant a lot to us.

“I actually sat at lunch with Kim [Littlejohn, the Scotland captain at the 1994 World Cup] and to hear her insights about leading a team and what was important to her squad was great – there is so much we can learn from their experiences and they were so successful.

“Donna [Kennedy, Scotland’s most capped player with 115] was there via Zoom and was telling us about the five World Cups she had been To. Not a single player in our squad has been to one World Cup, so to have that insight about what it will be like was huge for us.”

“I think stepping out at a World Cup in New Zealand with a group of women who have worked tirelessly for the last few years is going to be without a doubt the pinnacle of my career to date.”

“I went along to my first rugby session and was absolutely hooked”

Malcolm, a talented hockey player in her youth in Glasgow and into her late teens and early 20s down south, only came to rugby in 2015.

She was brought up in a rugby mad household, but hockey always had her heart until then and she played at an age-grade level for Scotland.

So, what made her take up rugby?

“It was a mixture of things, I started playing Touch one summer and my S&C coach from hockey played rugby and she convinced me along with a couple of other girls to go along and try it,” the player with 30 caps to her name since 2016, explained.

“I went to Lichfield Ladies who at the time were one of the best teams in England and, as someone who didn’t even know what a ruck was at this point, I didn’t realise this at all. I went along to my first rugby session and just was absolutely hooked.

“Lichfield called themselves the red and green family and it was just that culture and environment that I absolutely loved. I was there with pretty much fully an international set-up in terms of England players and players from abroad, I had not a clue what I was doing, and they just took me in. They taught me the game and were so patient with me.

“They just took me into that family, and I was like ‘This is what I want, this is what I’m about’. My values have always been around family and loyalty and stuff like that, so as soon as I came into rugby and experienced that warmth and that welcoming environment, that challenging environment, in the sense that everyone wanted everyone to be the best that they could be – that, for me, was everything.

“And I never looked back from that day onwards. I remember it very, very clearly.”

Scotland head off to New Zealand on Friday, September 23 and are in Pool A with New Zealand, Wales and Australia and they start with a match against the Welsh in Whangarei on October 9.

And 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

Thanks to Rugby People for the main photo while the hockey one is from Rachel Malcolm’s Instagram

The Rugby World Cup runs from October 8 to November 12 and is on ITV