WXV 2 build up: Bartlett and her pack mates keen to Leah down a marker as Scotland look to kick on


Gary Heatly

During the TikTok Women’s Six Nations earlier in the year the Scotland pack really built up some momentum – and loosehead prop Leah Bartlett was key to that.

In the England, Wales and France defeats there were positive glimpses of the work the forwards were doing with forwards coach Martin Haag and other specialist coaches.

And then, in the final two matches at home to Italy and Ireland, the forwards really got on the front foot and allowed the team to attack the way everyone knows they can.

It led to two bonus point wins and Bartlett not only played her part in the set piece, but was strong in the loose and contributed three tries.

“As a front-rower it is always nice to score tries, it doesn’t happen too often,” Bartlett, now 25 with 26 caps under her belt, joked.

“Seriously though, it doesn’t matter who is scoring, it just matters that we are putting in good performances and we were really pleased as a group with those last two matches in the Six Nations.

“During the tournament we managed to tick off a few goals that we had been striving towards for quite a wee while, so that was a real positive.

“You could see by the way that we battled back [after sticky spells] against both Italy and Ireland that we have a lot of belief in each other. We know that in any game of rugby there will be patches when we aren’t in charge, but it is how we come out the other side of them and turn them into strong spells that matters.

“We are good at addressing things on the pitch now and getting out of lulls and we are proactive at getting out the other side, resetting the minds and going again.”

In the modern game you do not often see a front-row unit playing the whole game, but that is what Bartlett, Lana Skeldon and Christine Belisle did against Italy.

After that one head coach Bryan Easson said:  “The front-row energy was just growing and growing and the energy that was giving the rest of the team was great. I cannot speak highly enough of that three.”

“The three of us work quite nicely together and we all bring out different aspects of each other’s game and bring different strengths to the table,” Bartlett said about her link up with Skeldon and Belisle.

“We know what each other is going to do at the scrum, we just have to give each other a nod and we know what we are going after from that particular set piece.

“After games we always have a debrief and the connections we have built up are really helpful as I’ve also been playing with CB [Belisle] at club level for the last couple of years too.

“I know how Lana works too and I think we make a good trio.”

The first scrum of any match is key for a front-row and a pack in general to put a marker down and Bartlett admits that while most of us may watch games and look out for the exciting cross field kick or excellent bit of interplay, she watches every scrum meticulously.

As she put it:  “You never stop learning as a prop and every scrum is different and we know how important a part of the game it is to help the team out.”

Bartlett is currently part of the 30-strong Scotland squad preparing for the Spain encounter on September 30 at Hive Stadium and then the WXV 2 event in South Africa next month.

Once they get over there the Scots will be taking on the hosts in Burgersdorp on October 13, USA in Cape Town on October 20 and Japan in Cape Town on October 27.

Having earned her first cap in 2020, Bartlett missed the 2019 tour of South Africa, so cannot wait to play there having experienced playing in New Zealand at the Rugby World Cup last year.

“They are two iconic rugby countries, New Zealand was amazing and now I am looking forward to South Africa,” Bartlett explained.

“The WXV tournaments are new for everyone, but I think they will really help to grow the women’s game globally going forward and as a Scotland squad we are just really focused on keeping on building from where we left off at the end of the Six Nations.

“It is such a fun group to be around and we have a laugh, but when the serious work needs to be done we are all focused and I’m excited about where we can go in the next wee while.”

Bartlett, a Scottish Rugby contracted player who has recently moved clubs from Loughborough Lightning to Leicester Tigers, has her parents to thank for her Scottish qualification.

“My mum as born on Lewis and my dad is from just outside Inverness, so they are both very Scottish,” Bartlett, who is the youngest of seven siblings, stated.

“Dad is a vet, so they moved down south [to Loughborough where the Bartlett clan grew up] and he has his own practice now.

“My parents and my siblings have been super supportive of my rugby and I started playing the sport at local club Loughborough Town, took it on at Loughborough University, started playing for the Lightning and haven’t looked back really.

“It is amazing that I now get to focus on my rugby a lot more because of the contract [with Scottish Rugby] while away from the pitch I also work at Loughborough College as part of their Diploma in Sporting Excellence (DiSE) programme helping young elite athletes aged 16 to 18 on lifestyle and things like that.

“I enjoy that too and I feel I have a nice balance at the minute.”

Certainly the young athletes that Bartlett helps out at the college will be cheering her on over the next few weeks – and so will the whole of Scotland because she is a key part of the national team squad.

Scotland squad:


 Leah Bartlett (Leicester Tigers)

Christine Belisle (Loughborough Lightning)

Sarah Bonar (Harlequins)

Elliann Clarke (Bristol Bears)

Lisa Cockburn (University of Worcester Warriors)

Eva Donaldson (Leicester Tigers)

Evie Gallagher (University of Worcester Warriors)

Jade Konkel (Harlequins)

Rachel Malcolm (Loughborough Lightning, C)

Elis Martin (Leicester Tigers)

Fiona McIntosh (Saracens)

Rachel McLachlan (Sale Sharks)

Louise McMillan (Saracens)

Lana Skeldon (University of Worcester Warriors)

Demi Swann (University of Worcester Warriors)

Emma Wassell (Loughborough Lightning)

Anne Young (Sale Sharks)


Beth Blacklock (Saracens)

Coreen Grant (Saracens)

Caity Mattinson (University of Worcester Warriors)

Mairi McDonald (Exeter Chiefs)

Francesca McGhie (Leicester Tigers)

Holly McIntyre (University of Edinburgh)

Rhona Lloyd (GB Sevens/Les Lionnes du Stade Bordelais)

Liz Musgrove (Ealing Trailfinders)

Helen Nelson (Loughborough Lightning, V-C)

Emma Orr (Heriot’s/Biggar)

Lisa Thomson (GB Sevens)

Chloe Rollie (Loughborough Lightning)

Meryl Smith (Bristol Bears)

Match tickets are on sale now for the Spain Test at Hive Stadium on September 30 at 5.45pm, click here to secure some…

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

Thanks to Scottish Rugby/Jim Parsons for the man image of Leah Bartlett, she is also pictured with during her Six Nations scoring spree