RWC: “It is about kicking on, we cant sit still,” says Easson ahead of game changing period in women’s rugby

By Gary Heatly

Scotland’s players and support staff will head home from New Zealand on Wednesday – and the most important period in women’s rugby in this country is about to come as we head into 2023 and beyond.

They will be hurting after going out at the pool stage following tight Pool A defeats to Wales and Australia and then 57-0 loss to hosts New Zealand in Whagarei on Saturday.

There will also be pride at getting the country back to the World Cup for the first time in 12 years, but this really has to be the beginning of a journey rather than the end of one.

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.

The facts do not lie though and sadly the national team have lost nine Tests in a row since they defeated Colombia at the start of this calendar year to make it through to the ongoing ‘big dance’.

So, how will Easson and co take things to the next level and make sure Scotland are not left behind again when it comes to matters at the top table?

“Firstly, we will have a break it has been non-stop for two years,” the man who has presided over five Test wins in 17 since he took over full-time in December 2020, said.

“This group have not had time off in two years, so to put in three performances – especially that second half performance [when they let in just 12 points against a rampant New Zealand] – shows us all what they are all about.

“After a rest we will be looking at contracting, we will be looking through the strategy and we will be looking at moving forward, there is absolutely no doubt about that.

“We are not going to stand still, when we came to this World Cup we said it wasn’t just about being here, it was about competing against the best and putting in performances.

“We have done that, we are showing we are getting better, but we can’t sit still, it is about kicking on and moving forward and that will be the mark of this group, how we move forward.”

When asked if he was the person to take things forward along with the current senior players, Easson – who has a contract through to the 2025 World Cup – said:  “Without a doubt.

“Look at where we were two or three years ago and how we have progressed as a group in our performances.

“In five of the last seven games we have been within a losing bonus point [seven points] of our opponents and that is how close we are with the top teams in the world.

“We are getting closer and closer and it is only more recently we have started to train full-time and we will catch up with the other teams in terms of our professionalism.”

The next phase begins now…

Scotland squad that played New Zealand: Shona Campbell; Rhona Lloyd, Emma Orr, Lisa Thomson, Hannah Smith; Helen Nelson, Caity Mattinson; Molly Wright, Lana Skeldon, Christine Belisle, Emma Wassell, Sarah Bonar, Rachel Malcolm (C), Rachel McLachlan, Jade Konkel. Subs: Jodie Rettie, Leah Bartlett, Katie Dougan, Lyndsay O’Donnell, Louise McMillan, Mairi McDonald, Meryl Smith, Liz Musgrove.

Thanks to Scottish Rugby for the main photo

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