In many ways, the national women’s team’s two victories in this year’s Six Nations, following seven years of relentless defeat and frequent demolition, has been one of the feelgood stories of the Scottish sporting year.
Lots of work remains to be done in driving the female game forward but it would be churlish not to acknowledge the fantastic strides made in the last couple of years and take the opportunity to view today’s Sarah Beaney Cup final (kick-off 1.15pm) as an opportunity to see a raft of those Scotland players in action on the BT Murrayfield pitch when the old firm of Murrayfield Wanderers and Hillhead-Jordanhill face off yet again.
Former Boroughmuir player Graeme Black- hall is part of the Hillhead coaching team and believes the efforts put in by the female players definitely deserves all the encouragement it can get from the Scottish rugby public.
“Coming to Hills, I knew that six or seven girls were regularly involved in the Scotland squad so I knew they would be at that level. But underneath that, seeing the way the game has grown with the younger girls, and the amount of commitment they are putting in, the level they are getting to now compared to where it was has been pleasantly surprising,” said the coach.
“[Co-coach] Dean [Kelbrick] and I often joke that if half the guys we played with showed the level of commitment that these girls show, and were prepared to cover the same distances, then some of them would have gone really far.”
One player who looks destined to go far is Hills’ teenage skipper Louise McMillan, pictured, who has burst on to the Scotland team and has the potential to follow team-mate Jade Konkel into the pro ranks – though not, she insists, until she has completed the law degree she is currently studying for at Glasgow University.
For all the rivalry between the two clubs, it has been four-in-a-row chasing Wanderers who have always seemed to hold the Indian sign over the girls from the west and McMillan admitted: “The hunger is definitely there for a win. We have all the armoury to beat them, we just need to play.”
For Wandies, the Sarah Beaney Cup, which is named after one of their former players who died in a car accident, is also the main target of their year.
“The Sarah Beaney Cup means a lot to the club because she was one of our players,” said skipper Sarah Quick. “And also this year is extra special because our men are playing in the Shield final as well. It’s really a whole-club day and I think it will be a fantastic day.”