CAPTAIN'S BLOG: LET THE GAMES BEGIN!
Scotland Women take on England Women today at Lasswade RFC, kick-off 5pm.
Susie Brown, Scotland Women squad captain, looks forward to the Championship kicking off for the women's team, in the first of her tournament blogs, below.
Pic: Scotland Women squad captain Susie Brown and head coach Karen Findlay at the launch of this year's RBS 6 Nations
"So, 6N 2012 is upon us! Cannot believe a year has passed - it feels like you blink and it comes round again but I couldn’t be more excited to get going with the tournament. Unfortunately on a personal note I am not involved in the England game due to not recovering from a knock in time but I am really looking forward to the match on Sunday and supporting from the stands. The game kicks off today at 5pm at Lasswade and entry is free.
We did some serious soul searching as a squad after 6N 2011 and hope the work we’ve put in will show dividends this tournament. England up first is always a tough ask – they are already flying after beating New Zealand in back-to-back tests in November and are strong favourites to win an unprecedented 7th championship this year. You’ve always got to raise your game when you play against some of the best in the world and I know that hosting the auld enemy on home soil always stirs the soul. The team will be captained by Tracy Balmer, who did an incredible job of leading the team to victory in November against the Dutch – she is an uncompromising tighthead prop who has the running lines of a centre! Leading out the team will be scrum-half Louise Dalgliesh who will earn her 50th cap today. It is a massive achievement – not many players make it into the 50 club and it is something to be hugely proud of.
I want to take to opportunity to thank everyone who so generously supported my 45-mile trek in aid of the Wildhearts charity in August. Tough doesn’t go close to describing it but I would like to confirm we finished it in 21hrs (17 of which were in the pouring rain!). At the finish line the organisers advised it was the worst conditions they had experienced in the events history and it was the highest dropout rate of any trek. I had said it was willpower that would get me through and a strong desire not to be known as a quitter is part of the reason I made it to that finish line. This year I think I’ll do the relay – one 15 mile section is a lot more manageable!
A very brief update on what the squad has been up to over the past few months include:
November saw the squad travel to the Netherlands to take on the Dutch ladies in our Autumn Test. The Netherlands are part of a small number of countries trail blazing in women’s rugby as they have a professional 7s team. Their programme is supported by their Olympic Association targeting a medal in 2016 when rugby 7s becomes an Olympic sport. The match saw a number of players gain their first caps including Sarah Dixon, former GB Rugby League player - an incredibly exciting prospect on the wing. We won 33-10 with all five tries coming from our back three – evidence of the wide, expansive rugby we desire to play. We are very lucky to get the opportunity to play an additional test in the year giving us a chance to look at new combinations before the 6N gets underway.
December saw us move our training day from a snow covered Murrayfield to the green fields of Dunbar – we are lucky to have pitches so close that are always playable! Christmas gave us no let up as we were in the middle of an intensive conditioning programme meaning we were all out on Christmas morning getting a session in before the present opening and the turkey eating began. I am from Edinburgh and live very close to Blackford hill – beautiful place but a killer if you are going to do a session culminating in a best effort sprint to the top. Below is me at the end of that session on Christmas morning – it was very windy at the top!
We always meet twice in January squeezing two full training weekends around our club matches. People often tell me about the January blues but one of the best things about being involved in the 6N is how jam packed the first three months of every year are – you are literally so busy you don’t have time to stop and think about how cold or miserable it is as a month! On the 25th I attended the launch of the 6N held at the Hurlingham Club in London. It is a fantastic event that sees all the captains and coaches, both men and women, meet with the press and do all the pre-tournament media. I caught up with all the women’s captains and also got to meet Ross Ford, the newly appointed Scotland men’s captain – see the photo below, with our respective head coaches, Karen Findlay and Andy Robinson. He is a great guy and no doubt will be a wonderful leader for the men’s side.
And so it begins! I hope to see you at Lasswade today."