Scotland name Women's Six Nations squad as six new faces selected

Easson’s group for upcoming tournament revealed – ‘they deserve a chance to take the next step’

Five tries in six matches for Edinburgh Rugby in the Celtic Challenge competition has catapulted uncapped winger Cieron Bell into the Scotland training squad ahead of the Guinness Women’s Six Nations.

Cumnock product Bell now plays for Edinburgh University and has been on fire for Edinburgh of late. The 21-year-old is one of six new faces – and seven uncapped players overall – named in head coach Bryan Easson’s 34-strong training group who will first meet up next Monday with the showpiece event starting on March 23.

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The other players called up for the first time are back-rowers Alex Stewart and Merryn Gunderson (both Corstorphine and Edinburgh), Edinburgh University and Edinburgh winger Nicole Flynn, Gloucester-Hartpury and Cheltenham Tigers scrum-half Leia Brebner-Holden and Bristol Bears winger Megan Varley.

Edinburgh's Cieron Bell form has been rewarded with a Scotland call-up.Edinburgh's Cieron Bell form has been rewarded with a Scotland call-up.
Edinburgh's Cieron Bell form has been rewarded with a Scotland call-up.

Fiona McIntosh, who was at WXV 2, but is still uncapped, is in there too. And Shona Campbell and fit-again Molly Wright are reintroduced to the group while the ones missing from WXV 2 are Jade Konkel, Sarah Law, Liz Musgrove and the uncapped Demi Swann.

Of the new arrivals, Brebner-Holden, who has recently spent time playing in the Celtic Challenge with Edinburgh, qualifies through her mother who was born in Brora. And Varley has previously played for England under-20s, but qualifies to play through her Scottish-born mother. Bolstering the management group for Scotland, Josie Symonds joins as head of physical performance and has experience from Exeter Chiefs and Worcester Warriors.

Easson said: “After our success in South Africa at WXV 2, we are ready to push on with a Six Nations campaign and it’s exciting to be doing this with new faces to the squad and management team. The expansion of the Celtic Challenge has helped us identify a number of up-and-coming players who have showcased they deserve a chance to take the next step.

“It’s great to bring in a number of experienced players and those whose professional careers have been flourishing in the Allianz PWR. Lana Skeldon, Rachel Malcolm, Evie Gallagher and Eliann Clarke have all been real standouts in that competition, alongside newcomer Meg Varley. I’m looking forward to seeing this group challenge each other in the run up to the championship.”

Scottish Rugby have also confirmed the 32 players who are now centrally contracted. Twenty-three of the Six Nations squad have professional contracts along with injured trio Konkel, Musgrove and Evie Wills plus Jenny Maxwell who has recently returned after 20 months out. Those 27 are augmented by Beth Blacklock (Saracens) and Nikki Simpson (Garioch/Glasgow Warriors) who have signed development contracts and the three GB Sevens players – Lisa Thomson, Rhona Lloyd and Shona Campbell – who have dual contracts.

Scotland Women’s Six Nations squad

Forwards: Leah Bartlett, Christine Belisle, Sarah Bonar, Elliann Clarke, Lisa Cockburn, Eva Donaldson, Evie Gallagher, Merryn Gunderson, Rachel Malcolm, Elis Martin, Fiona McIntosh, Rachel McLachlan, Louise McMillan, Lana Skeldon, Alex Stewart, Emma Wassell, Molly Wright, Anne Young.

Backs: Cieron Bell, Beth Blacklock, Leia Brebner-Holden, Shona Campbell, Nicole Flynn, Coreen Grant, Caity Mattinson, Mairi McDonald, Francesca McGhie, Rhona Lloyd, Helen Nelson, Emma Orr, Lisa Thomson, Chloe Rollie, Meryl Smith, Megan Varley.