SCOTLAND will kick off their Rugby World Cup qualifying tournament with a match against hosts Italy on Monday 13th September. Spain will be next up on Sunday 19th, and Bryan Easson’s side will then conclude their round-robin matches with a game against Ireland a further six days later, on Saturday 25th.
The Italians beat Scotland 41-20 at Scotstoun in the Six Nations earlier this year, and will be favourites to record another victory on home soil. But the Scots are boosted by the return of Jade Konkel, Sarah Bonar and Rachel Malcolm, three key forwards who all missed out on that match back in April.
All matches will take place at the Stadio Lanfranchi in Parma, home to United Rugby Championship team Zebre. The winners of the round robin will qualify automatically for the World Cup, to be played in New Zealand next year, while the runners-up will go into a repechage tournament against second-placed teams from other regional qualifying competitions.
Scottish referee Hollie Davidson is among the match officials for the tournament and will take charge of the Italians’ second and third matches.
The back-to-back scheduling of games means that Scotland and Ireland could go into the final match knowing precisely what they need to do to finish in either first or second place. To be in that position, of course, they would require a positive result from at least one of their first two games.
Meanwhile, Exeter have announced that they have signed Chloe Rollie for the coming season. The Scotland full-back, who played for Harlequins last season, was one of a number of players listed as unattached when Easson announced his squad of 28 for the qualifiers on Wednesday.
RWC Europe qualifying tournament (all kick-offs British time):
- Mon 13: Scotland v Italy 2pm, Spain v Ireland 5pm.
- Sun 19: Italy v Ireland 2pm, Spain v Scotland 5pm.
- Sat 25: Italy v Spain 2pm, Ireland v Scotland 5pm.
- All games to be played at the Stadio Lanfranchi, Parma.