Scotland’s World Cup bid on firmer footing as Spain come calling

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Edinburgh University’s Sarah Law believes the Scotland Women’s rugby team are ready to peak in the crucial World Cup qualifiers with Spain – starting in the first leg at Scotstoun tomorrow evening.

Law, now 21, first started playing rugby at her local club Penicuik and has since progressed to play for Murrayfield Wanderers, the university and the national side.

She has been around the Scotland set-up since she was a teenager and is a key player as they go into these two big matches.

The scrum-half missed the recent 15-0 friendly defeat by Wales due to injury, but has recovered and will earn her 23rd cap in Glasgow.

The second leg takes place in Madrid a week on Saturday and Scotland want to make sure they have an advantage for that one.

The winners will progress to the World Cup in Ireland next year.

“Since the Six Nations ended in March all of our focus has been on these two matches,” she said.

“We may not have won a match during that tournament, but there is no doubt that we came on leaps and bounds and head coach Shade Munro has instilled much more confidence in us.

“Before, we found it hard to get time to train together a lot as a group, but because of extra funding provided by Scottish Rugby we now have regular camps and follow our own strict strength and conditioning programmes.

“We have also been able to use the great facilities at Heriot-Watt’s Oriam and that has been brilliant. We have been training there in recent days and there is a real feeling in the squad that we can go out there and put in a complete performance.”

It will be a tough task to defeat a Spanish side with a number of players who represented their country at the Olympics and who are ranked ninth in the world with Scotland 13th.

Law stated: “We beat Spain in a friendly last year, but we know that they have lots of players back from sevens duty and it will be a different proposition.

“I think we really have to concentrate on our own game and do the things that we can do well.

“As a backline we are feeling good and feel like quite a tight unit, so hopefully if we get some ball during the first leg and we can make the most of it.”

For the first leg there are nine players who play in the Capital in the starting XV and another three on the bench. The backline are all Edinburgh-based and Edinburgh University centre Lisa Thomson is one to watch as is Murrayfield Wanderers full-back Chloe Rollie. Wanderers centre Lisa Martin captains the side while her club team mate Lucy Park could debut off the bench. Hillhead/Jordanhill’s Louise McMillan makes her debut in the back-row.

Head coach Munro said: “The players are really looking forward to getting out there and taking on Spain at Scotstoun.

“We are well aware of the challenge that Spain presents and how important these World Cup qualifiers are. We know Spain will be a much better side than they were a year ago when we played them and won but then again so are we.

“We’ve been looking at different combinations this season to add depth to our experienced pool of players. Competition for a place in the squad keeps pushing them all on and the chance to play in next year’s World Cup is another carrot. I’m excited to see what this group can achieve in front of a vocal home support.”

The match kicks-off at 7.35pm tomorrow and is live on BBC ALBA.

Scotland Women’s team to face Spian: Chloe Rollie; Megan Gaffney, Lisa Thomson, Lisa Martin, Rhona Lloyd; Helen Nelson, Sarah Law; Heather Lockhart, Lana Skeldon, Tracey Balmer, Emma Wassell, Deborah McCormack, Jemma Forsyth, Louise McMillan, Karen Dunbar. Subs: Lucy Park, Lindsey Smith, Katie Dougan, Sarah Bonar, Rachel Malcolm, Lyndsay O’Donnell, Jenny Maxwell, Eilidh Sinclair.