WXV 2: “As leaders and people Rachel and Kate are just phenomenal,” Haag pays tribute to Malcolm and Zackary

Gary Heatly

Martin Haag has worked closely with both Rachel Malcolm and Kate Zackary in recent times and he has paid tribute to their respective leadership qualities ahead of the Scotland-USA WXV 2 clash on Friday.

When USA beat Scotland in Edinburgh in 2022 and then into the Rugby World Cup later that year, Haag was a coaching consultant with the Americans.

Since before this year’s TikTok Women’s Six Nations, the Englishman has been an assistant coach with Scotland and is with them in South Africa just now at the WXV 2 tournament.

Going into the second round of three weeks of fixtures, Scotland are top of the six-team table on points difference from Italy and USA. Scotland beat South Africa with a bonus point 31-17 in Stellenbosch last Friday with USA defeating Samoa 36-26 with a bonus point at the same Danie Craven Stadium a day later.

Italy play South Africa at 3.30pm UK time on Friday, but before that (1pm UK time, live on RugbyPass TV) ninth in the world Scotland take on the seventh-ranked Americans at the Athlone Sports Stadium in Cape Town.

Scotland will be led by 32-year-old Loughborough Lightning back-row Rachel Malcolm here and she will be earning cap number 41.

Kate Zackary, the 34-year-old Ealing Trailfinder, will be playing for USA for the 34th time and will be skipper from centre.

“They are both amazing leaders,” Haag said.

“Every team needs good leaders and both of these teams have them.

“As leaders and people Rachel and Kate are just phenomenal.

“They are both good players in their own rights, but on top of that when they talk to their squads they command respect in the room and everyone listens.

“I am so impressed by how people listen to both of them when they are talking and that is the sign of a good leader.

“Leaders need a good team around them too and the players around Rachel are starting to flourish and help. We are lucky to have Rachel in this Scotland set up, she is phenomenal.

Meanwhile, the Scotland forward pack have had a “first class” attitude and are getting better with each game, says Haag.

“The forwards have been fantastic, their attitude and application has been first class ever since I came into the set up before the Six Nations earlier in the year,” Haag explained.

“I am really pleased about the way they go about their work, they try and be better every single time and we are always discussing how we play and what we can do better.

“We were delighted with the win against South Africa, but as we review it we know that there are definitely areas that we can improve on and I know the forwards will be keen to step things up against the USA.

“The USA are a very athletic team, they like to run the ball, they are strong, they have a decent set piece and they have a mix of youth and experience, so we’ll need to be at our best to get the win we are after.”

Should Scotland win this intriguing clash it would be five victories in a row following on from triumphs against Italy and Ireland in the Six Nations, Spain in a warm up game and South Africa.

And head coach Bryan Easson has been able to name an unchanged 23 from the last outing for this one, meaning that they have the power of Jade Konkel to use off the bench.

The third WXV 2 game in the coming days is Japan-Samoa on Saturday at 3pm UK time.

Scotland versus USA: Chloe Rollie; Rhona Lloyd, Emma Orr, Lisa Thomson, Francesca McGhie; Helen Nelson, Mairi McDonald; Leah Bartlett, Lana Skeldon, Christine Belisle, Emma Wassell, Louise McMillan, Rachel Malcolm (C), Rachel McLachlan, Evie Gallagher. Subs: Elis Martin, Anne Young, Lisa Cockburn, Eva Donaldson, Jade Konkel, Caity Mattinson, Meryl Smith, Liz Musgrove.

Scotland versus USA will be live here on Friday at 1pm UK time

 Keep an eye out on GH Media’s channels for Scotland women’s coverage through to the end of WXV 2 in October…

Thanks to Rugby People for the main image of Rachel Malcolm