Scotland Women prop Tracy Balmer is one of the most experienced players in the current squad. She is set to earn her 40th Test cap against France this weekend in what his her seventh Six Nations campaign.
The softly spoken 34-year-old has seen her fair share of highs and lows in the Scotland jersey and has mixed emotions about coming so close to holding Ireland to a 15-15 draw last Friday at Broadwood Stadium.
She said: “It was gutting to lose at that time in the game, however our performance was so good and so up from last season that time of feeling down was short because there were so many positives to take from that game.
“We were able to watch the game back and see how well we did and look forward to France and build again.
“We want to keep progressing with each game and in that game we progressed ten-fold. The deficit that we have reduced is second to none and to be up at half time and be 15-15 for long was great.”
The Scots were up 15-10 at half time following two Jade Konkel tries, but a last gasp score in the final play of the match saw the visitors snatch victory.
While the final score was disappointing for the Scots, they proved they can compete with teams ranked higher than them for a full 80 minutes.
It was the overall performance that has pleased us the most. What we have been trying to implement at training, it all came together cohesively during the game.
“We’ve worked really hard in our defence, that has been one of our key areas. We put the work in at training and it was pleasing to see as a team that we managed to do that in the game as well”
The benefit of more training camps and competitive matches this season, including the two-leg Rugby World Cup qualifier against Spain, was evident on the pitch.
“In training, you feel like you’re improving but you can’t really tell until you’re tested,” Tracy explained.
“So yes we felt good going into Ireland, we obviously had to come out of the loss against Spain and build our confidence back up. To go into that Ireland game and perform so well shows the character of the girls, the strength of the squad and the strength of the programme that we’ve got at the moment.
“You never want to lose a game so it was hard but we were so pleased with our performance. You can’t dwell on it. It’s about dealing with that loss and putting it to bed, focusing on the positives and pushing forward again.”
And that is exactly what the squad is doing – focusing on France, who they face in La Rochelle on Saturday night, and building on their performance against Ireland.
Tracy said: “We played well against them in the last Six Nations and held them out just before the end of the first half and went on to lose 24-0.”
“France are always a physical team. They’re big strong runners. They’re going to throw everything at us so we’re expecting a hard-fought game.”
Watch Scotland Women v France Women live on Scottish Rugby TV at 8pm GMT. Head to scottishrugby.org/live for details.
Read the full story on the team selected to face France HERE.