SCOTLAND have been crowned WXV2 champions after Italy managed an impressive 30-8 victory over USA in the final match of their campaign in Cape Town but fell agonisingly short of the points differential they needed to pip Rachel Malcolm’s team at the post (Scotland +55 to Italy’s +53).
Malcom was clearly and justifiably delighted as she lifted the trophy even though it must have been a rather surreal experience given that she and her team played their final match more than 24 hours earlier when they marched to a 38-7 win over Japan. Earlier in the tournament, they defeated USA 24-14 and South Africa 31-17.
That win over Japan was the team’s sixth consecutive victory, equalling their best-ever run of wins. It represents a massive turnaround in Scotland’s fortunes since they ended a run of 12 defeats in the spring.
— Scottish Rugby (@Scotlandteam) October 28, 2023
The playing squad and management team were at the Athlone Stadium to watch the Italy-USA game before receiving the trophy, and head coach Bryan Easson admitted afterwards that it had been a draining experience.
“I turned 50 recently and I feel about 100 now,” he said. “That was very nerve-wracking. It’s tough when you can’t control what is going to happen, and that last few minutes when USA kept giving the ball back to Italy and then Italy had a try disallowed felt like hours.
“The girls deserve this, and to see them lifting the trophy there was very special and myself and the management group are immensely proud. This is such a special moment, and I want the girls to enjoy it because they have been through a lot over recent years and it has been a rollercoaster journey.
“To win six games in a row has been excellent and things have really moved on during that period, getting the trophy here is just the icing on the cake. It is a special moment for the whole group.
“We internally said we wanted to win this event, and to win three games and hit our outcomes was brilliant. But the reason we are able to set those lofty goals is because of the belief that myself and Rachel have in this group.
“We believe in the squad that we have got, we believe in the talent, and they are an exceptional group who can get even better. When you win something it is not the time to rest on your laurels, it is the time to kick on.
“We are up to seventh in the world now and if we keep performing like we have been doing and keep getting better then we are excited about where we can go. This team is going places and I think the next two or three years will be special too.
“These players inspire youngsters, and women’s and girls’ rugby is growing so much. This success will inspire more females to get into the sport and be a part of it and Rachel Malcolm and the rest of the players really are excellent role models.”