'We have progressed as a group in our performances': Bryan Easson remains optimistic as Scotland Women's World Cup ends
With the new WXV international tournament - which will give the top countries more fixtures against each other - beginning in 2023 leading into an expanded 16-team World Cup in England in 2025, these are exciting times for the sport globally.
Scottish Rugby launched their ‘Women and Girls’ Strategy 2022-2026’ in the summer with the 30 top players set to be offered full-time contracts soon and the annual spend on this strand of the game now at an all-time high of £4.1 million.
All positives, but everything going forward will be against a backdrop of the national team failing to make it through to the World Cup knock-out stages in New Zealand after they were thumped 57-0 by the hosts in Whangarei on Saturday in Pool A.
Scotland failed to win a game at the showpiece event and the squad will head home on Wednesday with pride at being at the tournament for the first time since 2010, but with regret that they lost very tight games to Wales and Australia.
It has been a rollercoaster two years since Easson took charge of an 18-18 draw with France at Scotstoun as interim head coach.
The squad has had to deal with the back end of the pandemic, tight World Cup qualifying matches, two tough Six Nations campaigns and, most of all, losing team mate Siobhan Cattigan 11 months ago.
In the two years since Easson took full-time charge, Scotland have won five Tests and lost 12. The latter figure includes their last nine games on the trot since they defeated Colombia to make it to the World Cup early in 2022.
When asked if he was the man to take things forward Easson - who has a contract through to the 2025 World Cup - said: “Without a doubt.
“Look at where we were two or three years ago and how we have progressed as a group in our performances.
“In five of the last seven games we have been within a losing bonus point [seven points] of our opponents and that is how close we are with the top teams in the world.
“We are getting closer and closer and it is only more recently we have started to train full-time and we will catch up with the other teams in terms of our professionalism.
“The senior players have been absolutely phenomenal all of the way through this. Rachel [Malcolm] the captain has been phenomenal and we have learnt a lot about ourselves.
“This group have not had time off in two years so, after a rest, we will be looking at contracting and we will be looking at moving forward - there is absolutely no doubt about that.
“We are not going to stand still, when we came to this World Cup we said it wasn’t just about being here, it was about competing against the best and putting in performances. We have done that and we are showing we are getting better.
“However, we can’t sit still, it is about kicking on and moving forward - how we move forward now will be the mark of this group.”