CHLOE Rollie believes that her experience of playing in French rugby could be a considerable asset when Scotland take on France tonight (Saturday) in the Six Nations. The full-back and substitute Lisa Martin both play for Lille Metropole Villeneuvois, whose home ground is the venue for the game, while stand-off Helen Nelson also plays her club rugby in France, for Montpellier.
“I know the French team quite well,” Rollie said. “It’s good for me to pass on the information about them to my team-mates.
“They’re only human, just like us, but they are good players. If we put them under pressure we can make them doubt what they do, but if we sit back and let them play their game, they’ll go straight through us.”
At 23, Rollie still has the bulk of her career ahead of her, but with 27 caps to her name she is now one of the senior members of Shade Munro’s squad. While always a key player, especially in attack, she has more recently taken on a wider leadership role, thanks in part to her experiences of living and working in France.
“Both aspects have changed me. I believe in myself and my abilities more, both on and off the pitch. Definitely on the pitch, dealing with pressure and improving my skills. In day-to-day life, I’ve had to do a lot of things to fit in and teach myself a basic level of French.
“Being in Lille is a huge confidence-booster for me. It feels like I’ll be at home. I’m very comfortable there, having been there for two seasons.
“It’s going to be good. At a club game, we get the brass band, the drums come out and all the flags, so we should embrace the atmosphere. We need to ignore the boos and the woos – it’s just how the fans are over there for club games and internationals.”
The Scottish squad in general could do with a confidence boost after losing their first two games in the Championship, against Italy and Ireland. But Rollie, who made her Test debut in this fixture four years ago, is buoyed by the knowledge that, while a lot of work remains to be done, the bigger picture is one of steady long-term improvement.
“We’ve improved the way we are on and off the pitch. We have more belief and ambition. The way we were before, we just turned up and hoped for the best, but now we want to put up a good fight.
“We always want to win games: it’s not about losing, anymore. It’s more about putting in a good performance and getting the win. Our skill level and fitness have improved massively.”