RWC: “This is absolutely just the start, we’re hungry to get better”

By Gary Heatly

As Scotland’s players head off on their own ways this week following the World Cup journey in New Zealand, they will do so with a determination to use the experience from the showpiece event to help them get better in 2023 and beyond.

With the new WXV international tournament – which will give the top countries more fixtures against each other – beginning next year leading into an expanded 16-team World Cup in England in 2025, these are exciting times for the sport globally.

Scottish Rugby launched their ‘Women and Girls’ Strategy 2022-2026’ in the summer with the 30 top players set to be offered full-time contracts soon and the annual spend on this strand of the game now at an all-time high of £4.1 million.

As a result this is a crucial time for women’s rugby in Scotland and the current crop of national team players understand that.

Captain Rachel Malcolm – who led by example in Pool A, making 58 tackles in three matches – said:  “I think the biggest take-home from this tournament is that we are ready to play on this world stage.

“It’s about how we now push on in the future and compete for those quarter-final spots.

“As a squad we’re hungry to get better. Proving ourselves on this stage has been a real building block in terms of our belief and where we feel we can take this squad in the next few years.

“We’ve got two and a half, three years now until the next World Cup and it’s about how we get ourselves in the best possible position. The support that we’ve got from Scottish Rugby is going to give us an incredible opportunity to do that.

“We’ve got a huge amount of experience now within the squad as well and exposure to this level which will help us with that pushing on. This is the time for the team, for women’s rugby. We don’t want this opportunity to pass us by, and I think this tournament has a little bit in the sense that we know that we could have been in that quarter-finals which is heart-breaking.

“But it’s also made us that bit hungrier to go and make the most of our opportunities as full-time athletes over the next couple of years.”

And, after a well-deserved rest, the 31-year-old back-row believes supporters will see a “different Scotland” in the TikTok Women’s Six Nations when they come around in March and April.

“This is absolutely just the start,” she said.

“I think we’ve proven that although it’s taken us 12 years to be here, there definitely won’t be another 12 years before Scotland are at a World Cup.

“The biggest point that I think we have proven is that we’re a squad that will never give in and we’ll always give 100 percent for our country which is exactly what I think everyone did whenever we took to the pitch – I’m hugely proud of that as a captain. I can’t ask for much more from my squad.

“But what I’m also proud of is the fact that we are looking at ourselves to get better and find out how we improve as individuals and as a squad.

“I think you’ll see a different Scotland in the Six Nations.”

Thanks to Scottish Rugby for the main photo

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