Women’s 6N Summer Series: Scotland U20 name team for Italy opener

Tour captains Poppy Fletcher and Hannah Walker both selected to start opening match of tournament in Parma

Merryn Gunderson - carrying the ball here for Edinburgh against Glasgow at the end of December - is one of seven uncapped players named Scotland's 6NWomen training squad. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk
Merryn Gunderson is one of a strong Edinburgh contingent in the Scotland U20s squad to play Italy in the Women's Six Nations Summer Series. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk

CO-CAPTAINS Hannah Walker and Poppy Fletcher will both play from the start for Scotland Under-20s in their opening game of the Women’s Six Nations Summer Series tomorrow night. Both winger Walker and loosehead prop Fletcher formed part of the Edinburgh squad that finished runners-up in the Celtic Challenge earlier this year, and are part of an experienced nucleus of the squad that will take on hosts Italy at the Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi in Parma.

Back-row forward Merryn Gunderson is another member of the Edinburgh contingent who impressed during the Challenge, while stand-off Ceitidh Ainsworth is included after some excellent outings for Glasgow.  The main aim of the tournament – the first official outing of a Scotland Women Under-20s  team -is to give young female players exposure to international competition at age-group level in order to smooth the transition to senior Test rugby.

“We are excited to get our Women’s Summer Series campaign off the ground on Thursday,” head coach Claire Cruikshank said. “Every single player – not just the matchday 23 – has trained well over the past few months to get us to this point and we’re looking forward to testing ourselves with this initial opportunity against Italy.

“Whilst we played against Italy last year in our Tri-Nations experience, this will be a new challenge for the group, but one we are ready to face head-on.

“This competition is a great chance to test ourselves against international opposition at this age and stage of players’ development in this new Summer Series, which is a really exciting prospect.”

Each team will play three games in the new tournament, Scotland’s other outings being against France next Tuesday then Ireland on Sunday 14th. “We played against Italy and Ireland as the Scotland Futures in Rome last year, so we have an idea of what to expect from them,” Cruikshank added. “They’re going to bring different challenges.

“The beauty of this competition is we will have to adapt very quickly. There’s not much turn-around between games, but that’s another good experience for us. We’re super-excited to expose ourselves to that level of rugby at age-grade international level.”

The match will be shown live on scottishrugby.org.

Scotland Women U20 (v Italy at Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi, Parma, Thursday 8pm BST):  Lucia Scott (Hartpury University/Gloucester Hartpury); Sky Phimister (Stirling County/Glasgow Warriors), Nicole Flynn (University of Edinburgh/Edinburgh Rugby), Lucy MacRae (University of Edinburgh/Glasgow Warriors), Hannah Walker (University of Edinburgh/Edinburgh Rugby, co-captain); Ceitidh Ainsworth (Stirling County/Glasgow Warriors), Leia Brebner-Holden (Gloucester Hartpury/Edinburgh Rugby); Poppy Fletcher (University of Edinburgh/Edinburgh Rugby, co-captain), Aila Ronald (University of Edinburgh/Edinburgh Rugby), Eilidh Fleming (Stirling County/Glasgow Warriors), Holland Bogan (Stirling County/Glasgow Warriors), Natasha Logan (University of Edinburgh/Edinburgh Rugby), Merryn Gunderson (Corstorphine Cougars/Edinburgh Rugby), Lauryn Walter (Brunel University/Ealing Trailfinders), Megan Hyland (Garioch/Glasgow Warriors). Replacements: Karis Craig (Watsonians/Glasgow Warriors),  Chloe Brown (Stirling County/Glasgow Warriors), Molly Poolman (Watsonians/Edinburgh Rugby), Talei Tawake (Watsonians),  Gemma Bell (Hartpury University/Gloucester Hartpury/Edinburgh Rugby), Rebekah Douglas (Corstorphine Cougars/Glasgow Warriors), Hannah Ramsay (Edinburgh Rugby), Nicole Marlow (Cardiff Metropolitan University/Edinburgh Rugby).

 

About Stuart Bathgate 1437 Articles
Stuart has been the rugby correspondent for both The Scotsman and The Herald, and was also The Scotsman’s chief sports writer for 14 years from 2000.

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