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rugby scotland Scotland Women Six Nations women in sport

Scotland Women: My Starting XV vs France

This is the month the Six Nations returns! Scotland women will host France the weekend of October 24th, and I’m too excited to wait until nearer the time to pick my team.

If you haven’t yet read my last Women’s Six Nations post, have a look here for a summary of the tournament so far, and predictions for Scotland’s next three games.

  1. Lisa Cockburn. Leah Bartlett definitely gets a mention here, as one try in only 3 appearances is very impressive for a front row, but a solid scrum is needed against a team like France, so experience wins out.
  2. Lana Skeldon. Find me another hooker that has 28 points from 39 caps and I’ll be a happy woman. Skeldon’s experience, and unexpected kicking ability, gives her an edge over the very exciting Molly Wright, who, like Leah Bartlett, has a try in just 3 caps.
  3. Megan Kennedy. Kennedy has been so unlucky with injuries not to add further to her 15 caps. She’s an absolute warrior. Mairi Forsyth has also been on cracking form, but Megan Kennedy’s unbreakable spirit clinches this one for me.
  4. Emma Wassell. She debuted in the first Six Nations match of 2014 and has played every single game since then. I can’t argue with that, and wouldn’t want to: Wassell is solid in the set piece and a great player in the loose, too.
  5. Nicola Howat. While Howat isn’t as consistent a defender as other players like Sarah Bonar, she’s a leggy, speedy attacker. Against a team like France, it’s worth giving her a run around.
  6. Rachel Malcolm. I’d have Malcolm continuing her captaincy, as she seems to help the team maintain a cool head, which is something Scotland sometimes lacks.
  7. Rachel McLachlan. Such an exciting young player, who makes an absolute nuisance of herself. There’s nobody I’ve hated playing against more. Panashe Muzambe is also great and is unlucky with how great McLachlan’s form has been.
  8. Jade Konkel. At this moment in time, there’s not really a debate. Jade’s the team’s only specialist number 8 listed on the SRU website, and she puts her body and heart on the line for every game.
  9. Jenny Maxwell. Mairi McDonald definitely proved her worth while Maxwell was injured, but for a game that could be as close as the one against Italy, the experience wins out.
  10. Helen Nelson. She proved her leadership ability captaining Scotland 7s, and her skills are undeniable. GB 7s.
  11. Rhona Lloyd. If you’ve ever seen Lloyd get an inch of space on the wing, you’ll know she’s what Scotland needs. Her strength and pace are so exciting. GB 7s. Abi Evans gets a shout here, too.
  12.  Lisa Thomson. More leadership ability in the 10-12 axis from the former captain. Her ability to play 10 gives her a versatile edge.
  13. Hannah Smith. GB 7s. While Smith sometimes attacks solo when a pass is wanted, it’s great to see a Scotland player who wants to get over the try-line, and with a great fringe too.
  14. Megan Gaffney. Gb 7 s. Gaffney is deeply experienced, but also an absolute firecracker. It’s exciting to see what her new club, the National 1 Heriots, will get up to with her on the wing.
  15. Chloe Rollie. Who else? She’s electrifying in attack and fairly solid in defence. Scotland could definitely do with more depth at fullback, but if Rollie continues her great form, anyone else would struggle to get a start here.

Feel free to argue (kindly!) or agree with any of my choices, and keep an eye out for the rest of my match reports and predictions.

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I am enough rugby scotland Scotland Women sport Uncategorized women in sport

#IAmEnough

In case you haven’t seen the latest women’s rugby controversy, let me catch you up. Canterbury and Ireland released the men’s and women’s strips: the male models were Conor Murray, Bundee Aki and Robbie Henshaw; the female models were… models. Beautiful women, yes, but the implication (sometimes outright stated) was that female rugby players are not beautiful enough, strong enough, inspirational enough.

The message from female rugby players has been strong and conclusive: we are enough, and we have had enough.

Lots of women’s rugby players are incredibly beautiful, in many different ways. But do you know what? Some of us don’t fit standards of beauty, and that shouldn’t matter either. A cauliflower ear, broken nose, or some lumps and bumps would never stop men modelling the kit that’s made for them, and it should never stop women either.

In only a few days, the movement has inspired a big change: Canterbury has committed to using rugby players for all their female kit launches from now on. In these dark times, small progress should be celebrated.

There are so many female rugby players I look up to, regardless of how good looking they are. My friends, my idols, women who dedicate their lives to rugby and might never see a penny from it, no matter how high a level they attain. If you feel like being inspired, too, here are five wonderful women who are every bit as impressive as Stuart Hogg.

Florence Williams. This is the lady that started the movement, so naturally she had to be on my list. She plays for Wasps, and is the founder of Perception Agency, which aims to change the way we see women’s sports.

Rhona Lloyd. The Scotland winger seems to get bigger biceps and even more badass every time she posts on Instagram. A great example of a beautiful woman whose talent and heart are far more important than the way she looks. Check out her ‘Women Who Sport’ podcast.

Jade Konkel. You should have heard of Jade, Scotland’s first female full-time rugby player. Her Instagram is packed with training pictures and inspirational quotes, and if you’re a soppy romantic like me, you’ll love her engagement story.

Heather Fisher. An England and GB7s player (a World Cup winner and an Olympian!) who has been vocal about her past struggles with anorexia, and her ongoing alopecia. Her values are ‘work hard, be brave, believe in yourself,’ which I think we can agree are the words of a role model.

Panashe Muzambe. Panashe is still young, only 24, and is in the early stages of her career. However, being the first Black woman to play for Scotland is already incredible, and I’m sure there’s a lot more to come. She has a podcast which talks about ‘life experiences, black/minority culture, relationships, TV, music and so much more.’

Two teams posts about the #IAmEnough movement also caught my eye. Saracens are using their big name to show other teams how kit launches should be done, and have a look at Hamilton Ladies for a local team who always have something to say for women.

Let me know which women inspire you, and always remember: women are enough, we’ve had enough, and we will come for you.

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Men’s Rugby: Glasgow Warriors vs Edinburgh Rugby

Pint in hand, joy in my eyes and radio Scotland playing commentary in my ears
Pint in my hand, joy in my heart & radio Scotland playing commentary in my ear

Friday: Edinburgh 3-15 Glasgow

I enjoyed this game a lot more than last week’s, despite the rather more boring scoreline, It was by no means a classic, but Glasgow’s two tries (and two almost-tries) had my heart racing, and the team seemed far more comfortable on the pitch. This could be down to Glasgow’s largely similar team choice.

Edinburgh, however, had a vastly different starting XV. While this didn’t work on the day, it could pay off when they have a wider choice of match-fit players for their semi-finals, but could also be a confidence crusher against Munster: Edinburgh didn’t look like a team that would be winning anything. If they want a chance against Munster, they’ll have to bring their energy from the last 20 minutes of last Saturday’s game.

It was exciting to have a very tiny crowd back watching live, but let’s be honest: the only name on everyone’s lips is Fraser Brown. On his 100th appearance for Glasgow, he captained them, scored a try, and got Man of the Match. From about 15 minutes in I was sure he was destined for this accolade: his try gave Glasgow the momentum to maintain a lead, and the way he put his body on the line in attack was majestic, a word rarely used to describe front rows. Stuart McInally might be very nervous for Scotland selection after Brown’s outing this weekend.

Huw Jones had another decent game at fullback, if we ignore his desperate seatbelt tackle. While he was in the sin bin, I kept waiting for Edinburgh to score, but they only came out of the ten minute advantage with three points. Glasgow will have taken confidence from not conceding anything worse than a penalty.

It was just a game of pride, but that’s something Glasgow definitely regained on Friday night. They successfully maintained their lead and were determined to get the win that they came out with. After a false start last week, a good end to the season for Glasgow. Hopefully as the next season progresses, we can aim for something like normality: live rugby, I miss you.

Last Week: Glasgow 15-30 Edinburgh

Last Saturday’s game was one of sloppy handling, poor discipline, and halfhearted fisticuffs. There was some exciting rugby from Glasgow in the first half, but that dwindled later on to give Edinburgh the well-deserved win.

Despite this being the Warriors’ “home” game, BT Murrayfield is not their friend: their last win in Edinburgh was way back in 2016 and although they had shining moments, Saturday never really seemed like it was going to be the day for a win in the capital.

Huw Jones was a surprising bright spark after his rogue choice at fullback, although of course not as remarkable as Stuart Hogg might have been. Pete Horne looked decent at centre too, and Ratu Tagive had a fairly good game on the wing.

I was also happy to see Richie Gray back in Warriors’ colours – particularly as charge-downs are one of my favourite rugby moments – but I missed his brother’s tackling. Hopefully at Exeter Jonny will finesse his attacking (which would surely make him a top pick for the Lions. But I digress…).

The Teams: I’ve put last week’s choices in brackets for both teams.

Glasgow

Forwards:

1. Oli Kebble 2. Fraser Brown (C) 3. Zander Fagerson 4. Rob Harley (Richie Gray) 5. Scott Cummings 6. Ryan Wilson (Rob Harley) 7. Tom Gordon (Matt Fagerson) 8. Matt Fagerson (Ryan Wilson)

Backs:

9. George Horne (Ali Price) 10. Adam Hastings 11. Ratu Tagive 12. Stafford McDowall (Pete Horne) 13. Nick Grigg 14. Tommy Seymour 15. Huw Jones

Replacements:

16. George Turner 17. Charlie Capps (Dylan Evans) 18. Enrique Pieretto (D’arcy Rae) 19. Rob Harley (Kiran McDonald) 20. Chris Fusaro (Tom Gordon) 21. Ali Price (George Horne) 22. Pete Horne (Niko Matawalu) 23. Robbie Nairn (Glenn Bryce)

Edinburgh

Forwards:

1. Pierre Shoeman (Rory Sutherland) 2. Mike Willemse (Stuart McInally, C) 3. Simon Berghan (WP Nel) 4. Nick Haining (Andrew Davidson) 5. Jamie Hodgson (Grant Gilchrist) 6. Magnus Bradbury (Luke Crosbie) 7. Hamish Watson 8. Viliame Mata

Backs:

9. Charlie Shiel (Nic Groom) 10. Nathan Chamberlain (Jaco van der Walt) 11. Duhan van der Merwe 12. Chris Dean (C) 13. James Johnstone (Mark Bennet) 14. Darcy Graham (Eroni Sau) 15. Blair Kinghorn

Replacements:

16. Stuart McInally (Mike Willemse) 17. Rory Sutherland (Pierre Schoeman) 18. WP Nel (Simon Berghan) 19. Marshall Sykes (Jamie Hodgson) 20. Luke Crosbie (Nick Haining) 21. Roon Frostwick (Charlie Shiel) 22. Jaco van der Walt (Nathan Chamberlain) 23. Matt Gordon

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rugby scotland Scotland Women Six Nations sport women in sport

Scotland Women: Six Nations Predictions

Rugby is coming back!

The women’s Six Nations was disrupted by combinations of coronavirus, Storm Ciara, and more coronavirus. While the men’s tournament was almost completed, Scotland’s women could only play two games: an 18-14 heartbreak against Ireland, and a 53-0 thrashing by England.

Two losses from two might not seem encouraging, but let’s look at the facts: Scotland seems to have improved their defence from last year’s 80-0 clobbering from England, and the team have already equalled their one losing bonus point from 2019’s tournament, with three games yet to play. Things are looking up!

This year, Wales are below Scotland on points difference, with two fewer games left in play, having beaten Scotland by only two excruciating points in their meeting last year. It seems hopeful, then, that our women will avoid the wooden spoon in 2020. Scotland’s close run loss to Ireland, who beat Wales 31-12, also suggests that Wales are definitely beatable this winter.

However, they’ve got France to contend with first, a professional team who mirror the talent and wildness of their male counterparts. In the Women’s Six Nations, only England can currently measure up, having recorded a 19-13 win in February. The Scottish ladies are definitely improving, but against France all they can hope for this year is some points on the board. Doyle might think it’s worth testing some exciting new players against this colossus of a French team. Prediction: Scotland 10-40 France.

After their agonising loss last year, Scotland will have a point to prove against Wales, and will have the bonus of more match-fitness after their outing against France, while the Welsh team might be fresher. It could be a brutal match, but I think it’s one that Scotland will edge out, with the team sheet depending on form from the previous game, but definitely edging towards experience. Prediction: Wales 14-19 Scotland.

Italy, another team formed mostly of amateur players, is a win to aim for: Scotland, at their best, could overpower them, but until we’ve seen their form against France and Wales, it’s hard to know how they’ll measure up. Against Italy, especially away from home, I’d suggest Head Coach Philip Doyle will go for experienced players who can keep a cool head, but will it be enough? Prediction: Italy 12-12 Scotland.

Let me know your predictions in the comments, and keep an eye out for my next Scotland women’s rugby post, where I’ll give my suggested Scotland starting XV against France.