As captain after captain at the official launch of the Women’s Six Nations let their thoughts stray forward to the summer’s World Cup, the Scotland skipper Lisa Martin could be forgiven for allowing herself a little wince.
However, there was no negative body language from the Murrayfield Wanderers centre/stand-off as she exuded confidence that the Scots Women can continue their improvement in this year’s Six Nations.
The loss to Spain in a two-legged play-off and subsequent failure to reach the global extravaganza that will take place in Ireland later this year is clearly a bitter blow but wallowing is never the right response to a setback and the Scottish girls are determined to make amends in this year’s Six Nations, hopefully getting the win that has eluded them since they beat France way back in 2010. With Shade Munro at the helm, defeats have gone from the embarrassing to the respectable and there is genuine belief that another step forward can be made in the next couple of months.
Despite understandable agitations from their play-off conquerors Spain, Scotland’s place in the Six Nations is safe for now, and 26-year-old Martin believes that there is a growing respect for her team.
“I’d like to think so, we’ve trained really hard and we’ve had a strong build-up coming into this Six Nations with two good wins against [English clubs] Lichfield and Aylesford,” she said.
“The World Cup qualifiers didn’t go our way but we really stepped up as a squad and it was in our grasp, which in matches previously hasn’t been the case.
“Having our Spain match on BBC Alba was huge and the reaction we’ve had has been fantastic. People have come up to me on the street and said it was the first time they’ve ever watched women’s rugby.
“That’s what we want, to get people inspired and kids involved.”
All 15 Women’s Six Nations games will be broadcast live, either online or streamed on the tournament website, with the battle for the title likely to be between holders France, Ireland and world champions England. Scotland’s home games against Ireland, Wales and Italy will be played at Broadwood as double headers with the men’s Under-20s, starting on Friday evening with the Ireland match (6.30pm). Scotland then play France away a week on Saturday.
Coach Munro added: “The preparation has been very good. Spain was a real step up in terms of performance. Rather than look at it as ‘oh you must be so disappointed to lose’ we actually did really well to compete as well as we did [in a 25-15 aggregate defeat].
“But we’re not just here to perform well and never win. Our goal is to win games. England, France and Ireland are well above our level but the other two [Wales and Italy] are more on a par with where we are.
“The players are more skilful and fitter than last year. Their understanding of the game is a bit better and there is more belief and confidence.
“All this has been put in place to ultimately win a game. I think we are getting there.”