Belief growing for Scots women in hunt for elusive victory

Lisa Martin is in her first season as Scotland captain and is enjoying promoting the game to young girls. Picture: Toby Williams
Lisa Martin is in her first season as Scotland captain and is enjoying promoting the game to young girls. Picture: Toby Williams
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It may be a Six Nations week but for the captain of the Scotland Women’s team there is still the day job to take care of before she turns her attentions to Friday’s clash with France.

The Scotsman caught up with Lisa Martin yesterday during her lunch break at the University of Edinburgh’s Sport & Exercise Centre, where she works as a performance sport co-ordinator. Come 5pm she’ll head across the city to training at BT Murrayfield and prepare for the fourth game in this year’s women’s competition, which has already shown tangible signs of improvement from the Scots under new head coach Shade Munro.

They may still be seeking their first Six Nations win since they beat the French in 2010 but the defeats this year have been closer and some of the play – such as centre Megan Gaffney’s fine try against Wales – has been encouraging.

The women’s game has progressed in leaps and bounds and Scotland, who won the Home Nations title with a Grand Slam back in 1998, have been struggling to keep pace but Martin believes the fightback is well and truly on and the future is bright.

“You’ve just got to look at the tryscoring opportunities we’re creating now,” said the Murrayfield Wanderers stand-off, who turns 26 at the end of the month. “We as backs used to get frustrated with lack of set-piece ball. But now, all credit to the forwards, their lineout and set scrum is really on fire and we are challenging.

“It’s just about executing those final little passes now.”

Martin, who has 27 caps for her country, is in her first year as national skipper and believes the appointment of former Scotland lock and Glasgow Warriors assistant coach Munro has provided a real boost to the team.

So far there have been defeats to England (0-32), Wales (10-23) and Italy (7-22) which, compared to some of the hammerings in recent years, is a step forward.

“He’s fantastic and brings such a winning culture from his time with Glasgow Warriors,” Martin said of Munro. “And he’s full-time so he can put all his effort into the women’s squad, go out and watch games, get intell on other teams. He’s instilled a lot of belief in us, which is something we lacked before.

“He’s stressing to us that we are good players and we have been chosen because we are skilful. It’s now about keeping that belief and producing an 80-minute performance.”

France won the championship two years ago but they lost to Wales last time out and Martin insists the team will go into the game at Broadwood confident of putting up a good show. She said: “France are a massive team. They have real strength in their forward pack and love a lineout maul. But our forwards are really relishing this one and seeing where they are in relation to the world’s best.”

Martin, whose father played rugby during his time in the RAF, is a former pupil of Portobello High and first played with her local Hornets team when she was seven before moving on to the highly successful Murrayfield Wanderers club four years later.

The opener against England last month was her first taste of the captaincy and it is a role she is enjoying, with promoting the sport and getting more young girls to try it something she sees as an important aspect. “Having the opportunity to share what Scottish women’s rugby is about is fantastic,” she explained. “There are multiple benefits, not just fitness but also some of my best friends have been made through rugby – friendships I’ll have for life. Rugby is such a trust sport. You put yourself out there physically and know you have people backing you up. There is a bond you don’t get in other sports. It’s so enjoyable and I’d say to any young girl to just try it and see.”

l Scotland Women play France Women at Broadwood, Cumbernauld, on Friday, kick-off 6pm, in a double-header with Scotland U20 v France U20, 8pm (£10 adults, concessions free). Both games will be live on www.scottishrugby.org