SCOTLAND have had few moments to celebrate in recent years in the Women’s Six Nations, but their visit to Donnybrook to play Ireland on Sunday will certainly bring back happy memories. Their 15-12 win in 2018 on their last trip to the ground was their team’s first away win in the Championship in 12 years, and was particularly memorable for a length-of-the-pitch try by Chloe Rollie.
Under heavy pressure from a home team who had the edge in the set piece, the Scots were in danger of being overrun. But then the full-back seized on a loose pass deep inside her own 22, and outpaced the opposition to score.
“I just remember catching the ball and running,” Rollie said. “It was on our try line and I think it was just the thought of ‘Right, we need to get into their face’, but to put them under that pressure to make a mistake and throw a loose pass. When I caught it, it was just a case of run and don’t look back. I just kept going and it was amazing.
“That game was really good to be part of. It showed how much progress we had made by that time, and on the day we played really well as a team.”
Scotland did not really kick on from that inspiring result, losing all five of their matches in the 2019 Championship. But since then they have got a new head coach in Philip Doyle, and the man who led Ireland to a Grand Slam in 2010 has given Rollie and her team-mates a new-found confidence.
Two wins away to South Africa got Doyle’s reign off to a very encouraging beginning, and although Scotland then lost at home to Wales and Japan towards the end of last year, earlier this month they recorded an inspiring win against Spain in Almeria. An ankle injury ruled Rollie out of that emphatic 36-12 result, but she is fit again now and confident of playing her part in continuing the revival under the new coach.
“I wasn’t in Spain, but even watching on TV you could see the differences from before and even the changes that had been made since the Autumn Tests,” she continued. “We didn’t turn up against Wales, while Japan beat us on the last play and that was hard to take, but the way the team regathered in Spain was brilliant. They did so well, they were so confident, and we’ll definitely be taking that into Ireland and the rest of the Six Nations. The change is there, it’s happening every camp, and hopefully we can show that on the pitch on Sunday and later in the Six Nations.
“Our heads went down a bit [over the last couple of years], but now we have confidence and trust in each other. Philip has freshened things up and we’ve gelled together as a squad.”
The increasing depth in the squad has also been apparent in recent months, but for the time being at least, Rollie remains one of the first names on the team sheet. The 23 to play Ireland will be announced on Friday.