Why this is the biggest game for Scotland as Ireland await

Today’s World Cup qualifier against Ireland is the biggest game in recent history for Scottish women’s rugby and a positive result can help the sport in this country push onto the next level going forward, according to head coach Bryan Easson.

Scotland Women take on Ireland.

In 2019 women’s football in Scotland really grew in popularity when the national team reached their own World Cup and their rugby counterparts are looking to make it to their own showpiece event for the first time since 2010.

Going into the last round of qualifying matches in Parma in Italy – the hosts versus Spain at 2pm UK time and Scotland versus Ireland at 5pm UK time – all four countries are tied on five points and any of them could finish top and secure a passage to the big one in New Zealand next year.

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The team that finishes second will go into a repechage event for a place at the World Cup and asked whether this is the biggest game ever for Scotland, Easson said: “I think it is. We have been in the World Cup previously, but the way the game is going globally, in recent history this is the biggest game.

“What we can do for the women’s game in Scotland, what we can do for Scottish rugby in general is huge, but we have to concentrate on this game and not look too far ahead of that.

“The extra exposure for the game would be exactly what we need for the women’s game.

“We have a young squad and to have more girls and women playing throughout the country because we get to the World Cup would really push the sport to the next level.”

Easson has had the luxury of naming an unchanged starting XV from the one that beat Spain last Sunday.

Second-row Emma Wassell will win her 50th cap – “a tremendous role model and player”, says Easson – and Sarah Bonar is added to the bench.

Squad: C Rollie; R Lloyd, H Smith, L Thomson, M Gaffney; H Nelson, J Maxwell; L Bartlett, L Skeldon, C Belisle, E Wassell, L McMillan, R Malcolm (C), R McLachlan, J Konkel. Subs: M Wright, L Cockburn, K Dougan, S Bonar, E Gallagher, M McDonald, S Law, A Evans.