Scotland head coach Bryan Easson believes his squad is full of “excellent role models” who “inspire youngsters” and he wants their dramatic WXV 2 triumph to be the catalyst for women’s and girls’ rugby to continue to grow in the country.
The sport for females is already on the rise in Scotland with more and more youngsters recently picking up a rugby ball for the first time, but Easson feels that a global success such as the one they achieved in South Africa during October can really see things begin to thrive.
“This success will inspire more females to get into the sport and be a part of it and captain Rachel Malcolm and the rest of the players really are excellent role models,” he said.
“These players inspire youngsters and women’s and girls’ rugby is growing so much in Scotland – this can help it grow even more.
“I think this is the time to move the national team forward too.
“You want to push forward when you’re on the crest of a wave and I think we are there now. In terms of support behind these girls I want to see everything done to help them reach their full potential leading into Rugby World Cup 2025.
“There are some really exciting youngsters coming through and we want to really make it right for them, make sure the environment is one they can thrive in.
“We’ll keep pushing and try and build a legacy from this WXV 2 win.”
An age-old classic finale
Scotland's 38-7 bonus point victory over Japan in Cape Town on Friday meant that they had finished on 15 points in the WXV 2 standings with a points difference of +55 from their three matches.
Italy went into their game with USA 24 hours later in second on 10 points with a points difference of +31 meaning they had to win with a bonus point and by 25 points or more.
With the Scotland squad and backroom staff watching on from the stands at Athlone Sports Stadium, Italy did everything they could, scoring five tries and leading 30-8 heading into the closing stages.
However, the Women's Eagles defence stood firm and when an Italian player knocked the ball on with the clock in the red and the final whistle was blown, the Scotland players – who had been biting their nails and pacing up and down – began to celebrate.
The 30-8 result meant that Italy finished on 15 points, but with a +53 points difference they ended up second in the six-team event as Scotland got their hands on the silverware.
“I turned 50 recently and I feel about 100 now,” Easson joked after watching the Italy match.
“That was very nerve-racking, it is tough when you can’t control what is going to happen.
“The girls deserve this and to see captain Rachel Malcolm lifting the trophy was very special and myself and the management group are immensely proud.
“This is such a massive moment for Scottish women’s rugby and I want the girls to enjoy it because they have been through a lot over recent years and it has been a rollercoaster journey.
“To win six games in a row has been excellent and things have really moved on during that period, getting the trophy is just the icing on the cake.
“It is a special moment for the whole group and they are a very special group of players.”
Six of the best
This success caps an amazing turnaround for a Scotland squad that lost 12 tests in a row between early 2022 and earlier this year.
As Easson mentioned, they have now won six tests on the spin, the first time that has happened since 2001.
Back-to-back wins over Italy and Ireland in April to end the TikTok Women’s Six Nations gave the squad confidence and since then they have beaten Spain in a WXV 2 warm-up game and defeated South Africa, USA and Japan at the tournament itself in Cape Town
Since late last year 28 players have been on full-time contracts with Scottish Rugby and that – along with the unwavering belief of the leadership group and other factors – has helped Scotland get to this point.
“We’ve progressed, but we have more progress to go,” Easson said as Scotland landed back home on Tuesday.
“There’s more in us – and now is the time to do it.
“It’s typical of the group that focus shifted to what’s next as soon as that final whistle went in the Italy game.
“We have a brilliant group of people here and there were some excellent performances all the way through the three WXV 2 games, but we know we can get better and that really excites me going forward.”