Women’s Six Nations: Scotland captain Rachel Malcolm refuses to be daunted by opener against England

Scotland captain Rachel Malcolm refuses to be daunted by an opening Women’s Six Nations fixture against Grand Slam champions England.

Scotland captain Rachel Malcolm in action against France. Picture: Bill Murray/SNS Group
Scotland captain Rachel Malcolm in action against France. Picture: Bill Murray/SNS Group

The delayed tournament will be played in a shortened format and the Scots kick off the new campaign at Castle Park, Doncaster, on Saturday afternoon.

Malcolm detects a new mindset in the Scotland squad and the focus in the build-up has been more on themselves than the opposition.

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New coach Bryan Easson was appointed on a full-time basis in December after leading the side in an interim role following the departure of Phillip Doyle, who was forced to step down in August due to Covid shielding restrictions.

Easson was in charge for the impressive 13-13 draw with France at Scotstoun in October, Scotland’s last match and a result that bolstered the squad’s confidence.

“The mindset has really shifted from what we have previously had,” explained Malcolm.

“Previously we probably focused far too much on the opposition, but now we have so much belief in ourselves because of the depth we have built in the squad.

“So we go into every game now with that belief and know that if we stick together and focus on our own performance then we can put in good performances.

“We know if we perform well on any given day we can compete with all teams.”

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England have been on a different level in recent years, winning Grand Slams in 2017, 2019 and 2020. They beat Scotland 53-0 at Murrayfield last season but Malcolm refuses to be burdened by history and says the squad is just desperate to play rugby again following the long lay-off.

“Do you know what, in previous years I would have said this was a daunting start because England are one of the best teams, but because of the mindset shift and the fact that we are so excited to play together we just want to get out there now,” said the flanker.

“I personally think England are the best team in the world and it is a massive opportunity for us to go and try and compete at that level and show the incredible work that has gone on in this camp and over the last year.”

The new format sees the six countries split into two groups of three. Scotland are in Pool A with England and Italy, who they will play at Scotstoun on April 17.

There will be a finals day on April 24 when each side will play the team from the other pool which finishes in the corresponding position.

Malcolm feels “privileged” to be given the opportunity to play elite sport again and had nothing but good things to say about about Doyle’s work with the team

“In the short while he was with us he was brilliant. It was a really smooth transition to Bryan taking up the head coach’s role because he was with us for a period before that.

“Bryan’s been brilliant. One thing Bryan is world class at is his understanding of players. It’s little details that really make a difference to how you feel in camp and how you feel going into a game and Bryan’s got a really good awareness of that. He’s got a player-centred approach to things and, personally, I have a really good relationship with him.”

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