Women’s 6N: “The crowds at the Hive are just mad, it means so much to us all,” says Emma Wassell

Gary Heatly

Scotland went toe-to-toe with world number three side France last time out – and now they are preparing for an even bigger challenge against England.

In round two of the Guinness Women’s Six Nations on March 30 the game against France was right in the balance until the final minute with the visitors winning 15-5.

It ended Scotland’s seven game winning streak, but shows how far they have come since this time last year when France beat them 55-0.

The most recent encounter was played out in front of a home record tournament crowd of 5,601 and when world number one side England come to town in round three on April 13 that record will be broken again with a capacity crowd expected.

“It’s crazy now, the crowds are just mad,” second-row Emma Wassell, who with 66 caps is now in the top 10 Scottish women’s appearance list of all-time, said.

“I sound old in this team when I tell the younger players what it used to be like, but now we have over 5,000 people coming and it means so much to us all.

“Hearing the noise, sometimes out on the pitch you are like ‘I can’t hear myself right now’ and it is so incredible having that support and it does weigh on our shoulders because we feel hugely responsible in terms of wanting to put in performances for the fans.

“There have probably been some dark days in the past for Scotland women, but they are gone now and I’d like to think we are very much on the up now and our performances and the number of fans who come to see us will just keep on growing.

“It is just a really good feeling and I feel very lucky to be a part of it all right now.”

Looking back on the France game, which came off the back of an opening 20-18 win in Wales, 29-year-old Wassell said:  “There is a feeling of frustration about the final result, but also lots of positives to take from that frustration. We believed going into the game we could win it and I genuinely believe there was that belief right until the 80th minute.

“It was really important that after Cardiff we built on that and I think we did in some aspects and defence has become a huge strength of ours.

“Personally, I was disappointed with some of our lineout execution versus Wales and again it was a difficult one versus France, they had really good defence in that area, but we also defended their lineout well too.

“We had the wind in the first half and maybe didn’t use it as well as we could of and we knew the second half was going to be tricky, but I think we shut down some of the way that they like to play with their offloading and we stuck in there.”

Despite the loss in the end, performances like the one against France and in the seven games previously have grown the belief in the Scotland camp before they take on England who have two wins from two so far in the Six Nations.

Wassell said:  “A big thing for us is belief, we have always spoken about going into games believing we could win, but sometimes it is hard to instil that belief without proof.

“But now I think everything we have been building over the past year in terms of the run of wins, WXV 2, the Wales game means there is now no hesitation in that belief.

“We know the challenge that England will bring and will try and impose on us, but we need to focus on ourselves and how we can go up against that.

“I think we can take confidence going into the game. England are the best team in the world and that is the team you want to play against, we just competed with world number three there and if a few things had gone differently we could have won that one.

“England will be another step up and we know that we’ll need to take that step up to compete defensively and in attack.

They have such depth and they gel very well together as a team in terms of their structure and how they play – they are clever, they are powerful and they are fast.

“We have to focus on how we can shut those things down while using our collective strengths to cause them problems as we have some unbelievable athletes in our squad.”

Thanks to N50 Photography for the image of Emma Wassell

During the Guinness Women’s Six Nations period through to the end of April, GH Media will be covering all aspects of women’s rugby in Scotland via reports, features and interviews…

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