SCOTLAND coach Bryan Easson has been able to name almost his strongest possible squad for next month’s Rugby World Cup in New Zealand, with his group of 32 divided equally between forwards and backs.
Scrum-half Jenny Maxwell and prop Lisa Cockburn are still making their way back from injury, but otherwise the group is composed largely of the players who have been the backbone of the team for several seasons. Loughborough Lightning team-mates Rachel Malcolm and Helen Nelson are captain and vice-captain respectively, and between them the 32 players have a total of 775 caps.
Lock Emma Wassell is the most experienced at Test level with 57 appearances, while Lana Skeldon, Jade Konkel-Roberts, Sarah Law and Chloe Rollie have all also chalked up a half-century or more of caps. At the other end of the experience range, Elliann Clarke and Coreen Grant only have one cap each. This will, however, be the first World Cup for every member of the group, Scotland having last qualified for the finals back in 2010.
“Rachel and Helen are both very good leaders and very well respected by the group,” Easson said after naming his squad. “They speak incredibly well on the field but also off the field. They’ve also got a group of lieutenants beside them as we’ve worked hard in trying to grow leaders throughout the whole squad, but to have Rachel and Helen leading the group is fantastic.
“We are all incredibly excited for the month ahead. I think it’s been a long time coming and it was exactly this time last year that we were in Italy trying to qualify for the Rugby World Cup, so it’s been a year in the making.
“A lot of discussions have been had, a lot of players have been played over the past year as well, so the process around that was to make sure we had the right players going. Selection has been tough as the players trained exceptionally hard over the summer, and then getting the players back from the Commonwealth Games has been exciting for us as well. Everyone should feel incredibly proud of being selected for the tournament and I know the squad and management are ready for the challenge ahead.”
Elis Martin, who made her debut in the recent friendly against the USA, is one of the players who have just missed out on selection. Rachel McLachlan, who was replaced by Martin after injuring an elbow in that 21-17 defeat at the DAM Health Stadium, has been passed fit to play.
The squad leaves for New Zealand on 23 September. Their first match in Pool A is against Wales on Sunday 9 October in Whangarei, then they play Australia on Saturday 15 and reigning champions and hosts New Zealand on Saturday 22 October.
Scotland squad for Rugby World Cup:
Backs: Shona Campbell (Edinburgh University), Megan Gaffney (Loughborough Lightning), Coreen Grant (Saracens), Sarah Law (Sale Sharks), Rhona Lloyd (Les Lionnes du Stade Bordelais), Caity Mattinson (Worcester Warriors), Mairi McDonald (Hillhead Jordanhill), Liz Musgrove (Watsonians), Helen Nelson (vice-captain, Loughborough Lightning), Emma Orr (Biggar), Chloe Rollie (Exeter Chiefs), Eilidh Sinclair (Exeter Chiefs), Hannah Smith (Watsonians), Meryl Smith (Edinburgh University), Lisa Thomson (Sale Sharks), Evie Wills (Hillhead Jordanhill).
Forwards: Leah Bartlett (Loughborough Lightning), Christine Belisle (Loughborough Lightning), Sarah Bonar (Harlequins), Elliann Clarke (Edinburgh Univ), Katie Dougan (Gloucester-Hartpury), Evie Gallagher (Worcester Warriors), Jade Konkel-Roberts (Harlequins), Rachel Malcolm (captain, Loughborough Lightning), Rachel McLachlan (Sale Sharks), Louise McMillan (Saracens), Lyndsay O’Donnell (Worcester Warriors), Lana Skeldon (Worcester Warriors), Jodie Rettie (Saracens), Emma Wassell (Loughborough Lightning), Molly Wright (Sale Sharks), Anne Young (Heriot’s).