WXV 2: “She has such great natural ability,” Lloyd and Easson on Fran-tastic young player McGhie

Gary Heatly

Scotland winger Francesca McGhie has had a whirlwind 2023 so far and a great start to life in international rugby ahead of the WXV 2 clash with USA on Friday.

The 20-year-old was playing club rugby for Watsonians a year ago, but her performances at that level and for the Thistles catapulted her into the national team squad for the TikTok Women’s Six Nations.

She made her debut against England and has not looked back since, signing for Leicester Tigers and scoring two tries in seven international caps so far.

Rhona Lloyd, who turned 27 this week, will start on the other wing to McGhie versus the Americans and she said of her young team mate:  “Francesca is excellent, she has such great natural ability, she hasn’t been playing rugby that long, but she has taken to it so well.

“She is an amazing ball carrier, she has such a great attitude and she loves to learn and wants to get better.

“I’m so excited to see how she will progress over the next few seasons.

“She is only 20, Emma Orr is just 20, Meryl Smith is 22 and other young players are coming through, so as a Scotland backline we are in such a good place right now.

“They are coming in, playing at this level and certainly not looking out of place and Francesca is doing really well.”

Head coach Bryan Easson added:  “Francesca has still got a lot to learn, but she is a really, really exciting prospect.

“She has grown into the game and she is learning all the time and with her alongside Rhona and Chloe Rollie in the back three just now we have a unit there that can really put teams under pressure when we have the ball.

“Francesca has grown so much as a rugby player in the last few months while off the pitch she is contributing more in meetings and she is learning more about how the game works.

“She has not played a lot of rugby in her life, but she is getting better with every game and it’s great to have her out here with us in South Africa.”

Going into the second round of three weeks of WXV 2 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.

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.

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 image of Francesca McGhie