Women’s Varsity Match: Edinburgh maintain stranglehold on fixture with nine-try win

Final score does not reflect progress St Andrews have made in recent years

Women's Varsity Match
It wasn't all one way traffic in the Women's Varsity Match, with St Andrews on the attack here ***Image courtesy: Chris Reekie***

Edinburgh University 49

St Andrews University 0

Iain Leggat @ BT Murrayfield

HAT-TRICKS from Sally Stott and Evie Gallagher helped Edinburgh to a nine-try victory against St Andrews and extend their unbeaten run in the fixture. Dominance in all departments combined with a simple and effective running game ensured that the trophy was in their grasp by half-time – indeed, with the first two tries coming from their first two attacks, it was all but certain from the opening minutes that Edinburgh would again end up on top.

The first try of the game, played over two 25-minute halves, came from a break from the five-metre line from Rachel Law. The sister of Scottish international Sarah, scrum-half Law controlled the tempo of the game from the start. England Under-20s cap Stott got her first try to make it 10-0 with 10 minutes gone, then completed her hat-trick before half-time.

Although St Andrews’ possession was limited, their full-back Shona Parratt was a real threat at times, linking up well with stand-off Sian McGuinness. Nonetheless, they were 20-0 down at the break, and any thoughts of an improbable recovery ended when Edinburgh openside Lucy Winter got the first score of the second half right from kick-off.

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Gallagher then stole the limelight, making a wonderful break from the Saints twenty-two before clearing through six tackles to score her first try of the match. Annie McKelvie converted to make it 32-0, then Gallagher grabbed her second before her midfield partner Lily Dibb-Fuller crossed the line for the eighth try of the game. Gallagher sealed her hat-trick and completed the scoring with a scrappy pick-up after St Andrews fumbled on their own five-metre line.

Despite being so comprehensively beaten, however, St Andrews had a late opportunity to show what they could do as they mounted a sustained, multi-phase attack on the Edinburgh line. In the end, a turnover from Stott denied them a consolation score, although after the game the No 8 herself praised the effort put in by her opponents.

“St Andrews year on year bring us something more, so we’re constantly having to evolve to try and stay ahead of the game,” she said. “Every game the score never reflects how physical it is out there. It’s something you don’t see when you watch it back, but we’ll all wake up sore tomorrow.

“They bring us a real test, but obviously so chuffed for the girls. I mean, that’s an amazing performance – some of the girls out there were really nervous and the team just gelled and worked really well together.”

Now in her fourth year of veterinary medicine, and playing in her fourth Varsity Match, Stott added that the atmosphere is like nothing else in the women’s student game, and was also quick to note that her try-scoring performance was something to savour.

“Every single time it’s like the first time. You come out, you see the crowd, you sing the anthem. I’m English and it still gets me going! The atmosphere is something you don’t get in a lot of the places in your life – it really is an experience.

“I mean for a forward, a hat-trick is something to behold. I love a turnover as much as I love a try, to be honest. That turnover at the end was the best thing for me. I love it – I’m going to be buzzing for days.”

St Andrews centre Rosanna Curtis, making her second Varsity appearance, praised the spirit in which the game was played by both sides despite the heavy score line.

“It’s something we have had discussions about in the lead-up to the event, because obviously there’s such disparity in the score line,” she said. “Edinburgh are consistently the best in the country. But the fact we keep playing it, despite the score line, shows that we want to showcase women’s rugby and we all come together in the same spirit and that is just promoting women’s sport.”

Teams –

Edinburgh: A McKelvey; J McClintick, E Gallagher, L Dibb-Fuller, E Jones; R Holmes, R Law; A Young, E Martin, C Parker-Smith, M Mancip, N Howat, T Hammond, L Winter, S Stott. Subs: S Donnelly,  E Dunbar, C Galloway, L Keay, B Thompson, L Maguire, I Birrell.

St Andrews: S Parratt; P Drew, R Curtis, R Fox-Rothwell, I Clark; S McGuinness, E Jones; M Woods, B Tappenden, J Coules, M Falconer, J Menday,  A Fryer, E Stormoth, A Parry. Subs: E Topliff, E Sword, A Jenkins, A Smith, V Armstrong, N Boon.


Edinburgh: Tries: Stott 3, Gallagher 3, Winter 1, Law 1, Dibb-Fuller 1. Cons: McKelvey 2.

St Andrews: No scorers

Scoring sequence (Edinburgh first): 5-0; 10-0; 15-0; 20-0 (h-t) 25-0; 30-0; 32-0; 37-0; 42-0; 44-0; 49-0.

Referee: K Mitchell.

Attendance: 9687.

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About Iain Leggat 3 Articles
Iain is a freelance sports journalist with a focus on Cricket and Rugby. Currently in his final two years of journalism at Edinburgh Napier University, Iain has worked with Cricket Scotland and is station manager and editor at large at ENRG.