Rhona Lloyd: Scotland need complete performance to beat Wales

Scotland know how to beat Wales. They did it at Cumbernauld in the 2017 Women’s Six Nations, winning 15-14, and they came close to repeating the feat last year too, losing out – again by a single point – in Colwyn Bay.

Scotland winger Rhona Lloyd. Picture: Paul Devlin/SNS

But they also know that, if they are going to get the better of the same opponents tonight at Scotstoun, they will have to put in a more complete performance than they have managed in their three games so far in this year’s Championship. More complete, more focused, and more assertive.

Rhona Lloyd played in both Welsh games, scoring one of the team’s two tries in the 2017 win, and remembers well what the difference between the two performances was. “I’ve been on both sides of it,” the Loughborough Lightning winger said. “On Friday it’s about being switched on for the full 80 minutes – that was the difference two years ago compared to last year.

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“Last year we had a really strong second half, but didn’t perform the way that we wanted to in the first half, which you can’t afford to do in international rugby. Wales will be looking to put in an 80-minute performance too, and we’re totally expecting that. It’s going to be whoever can stay focused and exploit their game plan best on the night.”

While eight members of the Scotland squad are now full-time rugby players, Lloyd and the others combine sport with their outside lives – in her case, a degree in biomedical sciences at Edinburgh University. At times, she explained, switching between one and the other can be tough.

“The position we’re in as a team is a funny one,” she said. “Because as well as being rugby players, like, when I get home from camp I’ve got two weeks’ worth of uni work to do in two or three days, and we’ve got girls who are accountants or vets. So it’s being able to put all that – it’s a massive part of us – aside for 80 minutes and focus on the game.”

Although Scotland have found it tough going this season, Lloyd has been able to enjoy every game in one sense, given there was a time last year when she feared she might never play again.

After an absence through injury that stretched to more than double its anticipated time, she returned to the squad as a substitute in the opening game against Italy and then played from the start in the last match against the French.

“It was so good to be back. When I got injured I was only expecting to be out for four months, and it ended up being ten months. There were times in the middle that I didn’t know if I would be back for the Six Nations. And there was kind of a stage when I didn’t know if I’d be playing rugby again, so to be back and in the squad, and feeling good to be around everybody, it’s really rewarding. It means you can really appreciate what an honour it is to play international rugby when you’ve had an injury like that.

“I had a shoulder operation – it was the second operation on the same shoulder – and it ended up being a lot more complicated than expected. But yeah, to be back in and around the squad now, I appreciate it more than ever.

“It was a case of not knowing if I would recover from it. The shoulder for a while was really bad. There was a while when the physios were not 100 per cent sure what was wrong with it. Players have scares like that; it’s part of the game. Just makes you appreciate being back a lot more.”