Rachel Malcolm: Scotland in South Africa
Rachel Malcolm, Scotland Women tour vice-captain, gives an insight into the historic tour for the team and how it is helping to shape them as a squad for the season ahead.
“It’s been an exciting week as we started off on Scotland Women's first ever international tour. We began our travels last Friday afternoon after a pre-tour meeting and training session in the morning. It was the first time we have been together as a squad since the end of August, so the girls were all buzzing to get started.
We flew from Edinburgh to Doha, then on to Cape Town. It’s the first time we have gone long haul as a playing group, so we had a number of different strategies in place to try and optimise our recovery and arrive in South Africa in the best state to play a Test match two days later.
This included ensuring that we were going to have enough sleep on the plane, at the right time as well as making sure that we stretched at regular intervals. We also used different strategies to keep ourselves as fit as possible on the plane and make sure we didn’t pick up any bugs on route.
When we arrived in sunny Cape Town on Saturday lunchtime, we had some time to recover, with some yoga, pool sessions and a rugby free day.
We only had two sessions in South Africa prior to the first test, so Sunday was a busy day... however the weather made us feel like we were not far from home with plenty of rain and wind! These two sessions gave us a great opportunity to refine our game plan and spend some quality time both in units and as a squad.
Monday and matchday came around quickly but the girls were all super excited to get going. It has been a long break since we have played as a XVs team. We have a few new and returning faces so there was a bit of a feeling of unknown going into the game. We were really looking at the game as an opportunity to see where we are at and put our game plan and training into practice.
The game was physical, as expected, however we were really happy with what we got out of it in terms of executing our game plan and imposing our style of rugby on South Africa.
It highlighted a number of key areas to work on, so the girls are looking forward to righting a number of wrongs in the second test which we expect will be another tough and physical encounter. We had a nice evening as a squad as we celebrated one of our girls, Christine Belisle, getting her first cap, which I’m sure will be the first of many!
Tuesday was our only day off of the tour so we spent some time exploring Cape Town’s waterfront district, before heading to Robben Island. The tour took us around the prison where Nelson Mandela was held and we learnt more about the history of South Africa. We saw his cell as well as other areas of the prison, including the rugby pitch. It was a very moving experience and I am glad that we had the opportunity.
The tour is aimed at helping us gel as a squad on and off the pitch so days like these off training and away from the rugby pitch are a great opportunity for this. The Team Management have also had us switching roomies and doing team challenges, so team cohesion is definitely on the up as we head into the final few days of training in the lead up to Test number two!
Wednesday was our main training day prior to the second Test. We had two full on sessions in some pretty warm conditions. The girls worked really hard, focusing on some of the key details highlighted from the first test. We finished up the day pretty shattered and with some team challenges to switch off from rugby before another big day of work on Thursday.
Thursday was another busy day with a gym session in the morning at a local cross fit gym, followed by a penultimate session on the pitch.
I am really excited to see what we can do on Saturday. It is going to be a tough match, but we are all eager to play. The last few days we have really developed as a squad and I think that is going to make a big difference to how we perform together on Saturday."
Scotland Women will play South Africa in the second match of the two test tour on Saturday at City Park Ground, Athlone, Cape Town (kick-off 2pm BST – streamed live via scottishrugby.org).