Scotland Women 7s in Biarritz - Report and Reaction
Scotland Women 7s recorded a momentous match win at World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series in Biarritz, the first invited team to do so this season. Head Coach Scott Forrest believes that the team’s performance shows ‘how far this team have come”.
Scotland, who came close to gaining qualification to the World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series at the Hong Kong Qualifiers in April, were the invited team at the final leg of the series in Biarritz. Not only did they succeed in something that no other invited team had managed with a win, they also had a player top the DHL Impact stats table due to Hannah Smith’s consistently strong performance throughout the weekend.
The squad were faced with a tough pool group containing the World Champions and League winners New Zealand, as well as England and Russia. The first match was against the World Champions, something that Head Coach Scott Forrest was looking forward to.
Speaking before the match, he said, “Playing against New Zealand in the group stage is exactly what I wanted. If we are going to go to an event like this, we want to be able to benchmark ourselves against the best team in the world.”
New Zealand took the win 44-7. A result to be expected from the team that went on to win the series. Rhona Lloyd scored Scotland’s first ever World Series try which captain Helen Nelson successfully converted.
The second pool match saw a thrilling encounter between Scotland and England. Two tries from Rhona Lloyd and one each for Abi Evans and Megan Gaffney, allowed Scotland to secure a draw against England.
In the final pool match, Russia led the way with confidence and consistency. Further scores from Gaffney and Lloyd as well, as one from Hannah Smith, allowed Scotland to stay in the game but unfortunately Russia took the win 31-15.
On Day 2, Scotland faced Fiji in the Challenge Trophy semi-final. Fiji opened up the scoring, but Evans scored Scotland’s first try from a Fiji line out. A yellow card to Fiji gave Scotland another opportunity to narrow the gap with a try from Lloyd. Sadly, it was not enough as Fiji headed to the Challenge trophy Final with a 31-10 win.
The final match of the leg for Scotland was against Ireland in the 11th place play-off. Gaffney opened up the scoring with a fantastic try in the opening minute. Ireland responded with a try of their own but further scores for Scotland from Lisa Thomson, Lloyd and Nelson made it tough for Ireland to compete. One last effort from Ireland was not enough to narrow the gap and Scotland took the win 26-14.
Head Coach Scott Forrest reflected on the weekend saying, “I am really happy with how we performed on the first day. Playing New Zealand first up, it couldn’t have got any tougher than that, but the team performed really well.
“The encouraging thing though was seeing how well the team bounced back against England." Scott Forrest
“The Fiji game was our poorest performance of the weekend, but we reviewed it and reflected on it. To come out and play the way we did against Ireland was great to see. We came into the tournament with the goal of winning a match and I am delighted that we succeeded. It was what the players deserved for all of the work they have put in this week.
“I am really happy with our performance for our debut on the World Series, an experience which we will take into the upcoming Rugby Europe Grand Prix Season. The tournament also provided an opportunity to provide more depth to the squad with two new caps in 18 year old Meryl Smith and DMP Sharks player Evie Tonkin.”
Captain Helen Nelson said, “It has been a great weekend for us. Some tough matches but we’ve learnt a lot and have improved over the weekend."
"To get a win in our final game against Ireland shows a lot of character and fight in the squad. We’ve all had a great weekend.” Helen Nelson
Scotland Women 7s will be playing in the Rugby Europe Grand Prix season in France and Ukraine this summer with the goal of gaining a place into the World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series Qualifiers again next year.
Photo credit - Mike Lee - KLC fotos for World Rugby