Scotland Women 7s will be looking to build on their success earlier this month, in the FIRA tournament in Belgium, with a winning performance in the Women’s Rugby World Cup 2013 qualifier in Moscow this weekend (30 June and 1 July).
Announcing his squad head coach Scott Forrest said: “This is the ultimate goal of our short programme, qualification for the World Cup, and we have to come in the top five.
“All we’re thinking about is the first game, against Ukraine on Saturday morning, when we must set down a marker. Then we face Spain, which will be a massive game as they reached the final against England in their tournament last weekend. In the short time we’ve been together, however, I’ve seen how we can compete with the best – beating South Africa and running the Netherlands close – and we have every opportunity here to finish in that top five.”
The squad undertook their final training session at Hamilton’s and Cambuslang’s grounds this weekend, extended by the inclusion for these two days of Scotland Women XV players Caroline Collie (OA Saints) and Tanya Griffith (RHC Cougars).
Forrest added: “The weather was terrible but the girls did really well and Caroline and Tanya added that bit to the session.
“We went over the same key points – we know that when we get things right we’re a very good team but when we don't get the key things right we can struggle in games. Right from that first training session (mid April) I knew they had potential and we’ve worked hard to get the players’ confidence up. They might be used to being the underdogs but we have every opportunity to qualify this weekend.”
This weekend’s squad reads the same as those who competed and came runners-up in Ghent, with the exception of Tess Forsberg (Richmond) who comes in for Susie Brown and Sarah Law (Murrayfield Wanderers) who replaces Sarah Sexton. Seventeen-year old Law is currently in her last few days of sixth year at Penicuik HS, where she’s head girl, before leaving school on Wednesday and flying off to Moscow on Thursday.
Although this weekend signals the end of the season for Scotland Women 7s, members of the squad have also been selected for the GB Women’s squad for the 2012 World University 7s Championships in France (11 to 13 July).
Scotland Women 7s captain, Steph Johnston, is included along with Megan Gaffney (standby) – also originally chosen, Sarah Dixon has had to withdraw due to work commitments. Scott travels to the tournament, too, as GB Assistant Coach.
He adds: “For me, Ii will be good experience to work with a different set of players. Steph has been a great leader of our team, says the right things at the right time and this experience will really help her game, too.”
Meanwhile, this weekend's tournament will also give Scotland a seeding, for future European competition.
The twelve European teams with established sides and seedings who had already qualified for the Moscow tournament are: England, Spain, Netherlands, Russia, France, Portugal, Germany, Italy, Sweden, Moldova, Ukraine and Switzerland. Following FIRA qualifier tournaments in Ghent and Belgrade (9 & 10 June) the four remaining places in this weekend’s tournament went to Ireland, Wales, Scotland and Croatia. Should the hosts, Russia, come in the top five, the top six countries will qualify for WRWC7s 2013.
Outwith Europe South Africa, USA, Australia and New Zealand – have qualified already, with Australia the current title holders. The 2013 Women's Rugby World Cup Sevens features the top 16 women’s teams and takes place at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow from 28 to 30 June.
Scotland Women 7s squad for FIRA-AER Women's Rugby World Cup Sevens qualifying tournament in Moscow
1. Tess Forsberg (Richmond)
2. Ruth Slaven (Murrayfield Wanderers)
3. Laura Steven (Murrayfield Wanderers)
4. Louise Dalgliesh (RHC Cougars)
5. Megan Gaffney (Murrayfield Wanderers)
6. Lisa Martin (Murrayfield Wanderers)
7. Sarah Dixon (Stirling County)
8. Katy Green (Murrayfield Wanderers)
9. Annabel Sergeant (Murrayfield Wanderers)
10. Stephanie Johnston (RHC Cougars)(captain)
11. Lauren Harris (Melrose)
12. Sarah Law (Murrayfield Wanderers)
Spain, Ukraine, Sweden and Scotland
Saturday 30 June
Ukraine v Scotland, kick-off 11.50am (local) (+3hrs BST)
Spain v Scotland, kick-off 2.34pm (local)
Sweden v Scotland, kickoff 4.56pm (local)
Scotland’s fixtures on Sunday 1 July are dependent on Saturday’s results