THE SCOTLAND women's rugby team arrived at their Surrey base yesterday with coach Gary Parker striving to prepare the side for an opening-day upset in the women's World Cup against title contenders Canada.
Scotland are currently ranked outside the top eight in the world game and if they are to reach Parker's target of the middle grouping for fifth-eighth place, they will have to overcome either Canada or France, also ranked in the top five, as well as the minnows of Sweden. The Scots launch their campaign with the tournament's first game on Friday and Parker is in his customary confident mood.
"The squad all arrived down here in good nick today, no injury worries and everyone is really excited about what lies ahead," he said. "This is a huge tournament and we have a squad that is desperate to really make a mark. I would like to see us finish in that 5-8 group because it is a good target." The Scots received a send-off on Sunday with a special cap presentation by Ian McLauchlan, the former Scotland and British and Irish Lions prop who is now the SRU president, to 2009-10 debutants Celia Hawthorn, Nicola Halfpenny and Stephanie Johnston, and also to the trio of newcomers to the 50-cap club, Lucy Millard, Lynne Reid and Veronica Fitzpatrick. Canada have lost second row talent Marie-Eve Brindamour-Carignan after she failed to recover from a herniated disc in time to get medical clearance to fly to the UK with the rest of the Canadian squad,
Scotland's fixtures: Scotland v Canada (20 August, noon), Scotland v France (24 August, 2pm), Scotland v Sweden (28 August, noon).
Scotland squad: Alison Macdonald (RHC Cougars), Beth Dickens (Murrayfield Wanderers), Celia Hawthorn (Edinburgh University), Donna Kennedy (Worcester), Erin Kerr (London Wasps), Gillian McCord (RHC Cougars), Heather Lockhart (Hillhead Jordanhill), Katy Green (Murrayfield Wanderers), Keri Holdsworth (Watsonians), Lindsay Wheeler (Darlington Mowden Sharks), Louise Dalgliesh (RHC Cougars), Louise Moffat (Murrayfield Wanderers), Lucy Millard (Team Northumbria), Lynne Reid (RHC Cougars), Lynsey Douglas (London Wasps), Nicola Halfpenny (Melrose), Rosalind Murphy (Edinburgh University), Ruth Slaven (Murrayfield Wanderers), Sarah Gill (Murrayfield Wanderers), Sarah-Louise Walker (Watsonians), Stephanie Johnston (Hillhead Jordanhill), Susannah Brown (Richmond), Suzi Newton (Team Northumbria), Tess Forsberg (Murrayfield Wanderers), Tanya Griffith (RHC Cougars), Veronica Fitzpatrick (RHC Cougars).