SCOTLAND have lost captain Rachel Malcolm for the remainder of this year’s Six Nations campaign due to a knee injury suffered during the first minute of the team’s defeat to England a week past Saturday.
Vice-captain Helen Nelson will step up lead this side in this coming Saturday’s game against Italy at Scotstoun. Evie Gallagher, who made her debut off the bench in the 52-10 defeat, is set to take over in the back-row, while Nicola Howat of Sale Sharks has also been called into the squad.
“Unfortunately, I can confirm that Rachel Malcolm is out for the rest of the competition,” explained assistant coach Ross Miller. “Losing your captain at any point is not great for any team. Not having her presence around camp is a big miss: she’s an experienced player, vocal and a big member of the team, so it is a loss.
“But we have a robust group of players, and they will work hard to continue to improve in her absence. That’s the biggest positive we have: the players are a hard-working group. She will be a miss, but we won’t be held back by that.”
While losing Malcolm for the remainder of the campaign is serious setback – especially as two other highly experienced forwards in Jade Konkel and Sarah Bonar are also unavailable – the good news is that the 29-year-old flanker is not expected to be out long-term.
“It’s not as serious as we first thought, so that’s a real positive,” said Miller. “We hope to have her back soon.”
If Scotland beat the Italians on Saturday, they will go through to a third-place play-off seven days later against the losers of Saturday’s other fixture, the Pool B match between Ireland and France. The winners of that game will contest the final against England, who secured top place in Pool A by beating Italy 67-3 three days ago.
“I was really entertained by the game,” Miller said of that match, in which a much-changed England team eventually overran the home side. “I thought the Italians did really well in the first 20 minutes: their defence was excellent and their ball-retention was really good.”
Defeat by the Italians would consign Scotland to a Wooden Spoon play-off against Wales, who have finished bottom of Pool B after losing to both the French and Irish.