Scotland set for World Cup date with destiny

Scotland set for World Cup date with destiny

The stage is set for Scotland Women as they attempt to qualify for next year’s Rugby World Cup in New Zealand and, despite all manner of permutations possible at the conclusion of tomorrow’s Europe Qualifiers, a win over Ireland would at the least guarantee a place in the repechage tournament which will follow early next year.

Bryan Easson’s charges followed up an opening loss to Italy with a bonus point win over Spain last Sunday – a result which leaves all four competing sides level on five points with one game to play.

That 27-22 victory against Spain, during which Scotland scored four tries through Rhona Lloyd, Megan Gaffney, Helen Nelson and Rachel McLachlan, propelled Easson’s team to within touching distance of the sport’s greatest competition, to be held next year on account of the Covid-19 global pandemic.

Last weekend’s win also saw Scotland enter the top 10 in the World Rugby rankings for the first time ever.

Scotland’s line-up for tomorrow’s showdown with Ireland (kick-off 5pm BST, live on BBC Alba) shows no changes to the starting XV, with Sarah Bonar returning among the replacements to bolster a squad that is on the cusp of what would be a first World Cup qualification since 2010.

The sides last met during the 2019 Women’s Six Nations, Ireland edging the contest 18-14 at Donnybrook having led 13-0 at one stage. That day, Scotland scored two converted tries, through Lisa Thomson and Emma Wassell, as they came up just short.

Wassell reaches the milestone of 50 Scotland caps tomorrow, an incredible achievement made all the more exceptional given the second row hasn’t missed a Test since a 2014 debut against the same opponents.

What Emma, and her teammates, wouldn’t give for this landmark appearance to be marked in the most memorable way.

Scotland team to face Ireland in Rugby World Cup 2021 Europe Qualifier against Ireland, Saturday 25 September (kick-off 5pm BST – live on BBC Alba):

Chloe Rollie (Harlequins); Rhona Lloyd (Les Lionness Du Stade Bordelais), Hannah Smith (Watsonians), Lisa Thomson (Sale Sharks), Megan Gaffney (Heriot’s); Helen Nelson (Loughborough Lightning), Jenny Maxwell (Loughborough Lightning); Leah Bartlett (Loughborough Lightning), Lana Skeldon (Worcester Warriors), Christine Belisle (Cartha Queens Park), Emma Wassell (Loughborough Lightning), Louise McMillan (Hillhead Jordanhill), Rachel Malcolm CAPTAIN (Loughborough Lightning), Rachel McLachlan (Sale Sharks), Jade Konkel (Harlequins).

Replacements: Molly Wright (Watsonians), Lisa Cockburn (Darlington Mowden Park), Katie Dougan (Hillhead Jordanhill), Sarah Bonar (Harlequins) Evie Gallagher (Stirling County), Mairi McDonald (Hillhead Jordanhill), Sarah Law (Sale Sharks), Abi Evans (Darlington Mowden Park).

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