Japan and South Africa enjoy WXV warm-up wins
WXV 2 hosts South Africa beat Kenya 77-12 in Cape Town on Saturday after the Sakura 15s wrapped up a test series victory against Fiji with a 41-36 triumph in Tokyo.
Uncapped trio Demi Swann, Fiona McIntosh and Holly McIntyre have taken very different routes to get to the Scotland squad and they have all impressed in training recently to earn their spots in the playing group that will be part of WXV 2.
In recent weeks a wider Scotland training group has been working hard ahead of a test against Spain at Hive Stadium in Edinburgh on 30 September and the first-ever WXV 2 tournament in South Africa next month.
The Scots will begin their WXV 2 campaign against the hosts in Stellenbosch on 13 October, before matches in Cape Town, against USA on 20 October and Japan seven days later.
The 30-strong squad will be led by back-row Rachel Malcolm and three names in particular popped out from the list named by head coach Bryan Easson on Monday.
Swann is a loose-head prop who now plays for the University of Worcester Warriors in England and grew up in Canada.
She began playing rugby while studying at Carleton University in Ottawa and at the University of Toronto and is eligible to play for Scotland through her mother from Troon in Ayrshire.
“Demi is a player that was brought to our attention just at the end of the TikTok Six Nations earlier in the year,” Easson explained.
“She was coming over around that time from Canada to play for Worcester and we knew that she had Scottish heritage. Myself and our team manager Ellen Dickson then took a trip to Troon because her grandparents have a place there and her parents were over too.
“We had really good conversations at that point, so she has come into the squad and she is from a wrestling background and has fought at a high level.
“She has played rugby in Canada and she has been looked at by the Canada national set-up, but she has been enjoying her Irn Bru and her haggis and feels fully Scottish.
“Seriously though, Demi is someone who has integrated into the group well and we are excited to see how things develop with her.”
McIntosh plays in the second-row for Saracens in England and qualifies to play for Scotland through her dad who is from Govan in Glasgow.
“She is somebody we have been speaking to for a while, she plays at Saracens and was part of their title winning side [in 2021-22]," Easson said.
“We have known about her for a while as I say, but she has been finishing off her studies and she was very honest with us around that, she really wanted to come and play for us before, but knew what the commitment levels needed to be.
“Now that she has finished her studies she was desperate to come into the group and she has given it a good go and trained well and she deserves this chance.
“She is an out-and-out second-row, so to have her, Emma Wassell and Sarah Bonar in that area as well as Eva Donaldson and Louise McMillan – who both can play there and in the back-row – gives us good strength.”
McIntyre is mainly an outside centre who can play elsewhere in the backline. She is currently co-captain of the University of Edinburgh’s women’s rugby team and has come through with the Thistles in the Celtic Challenge and represented Scottish Futures.
As for the new face in the backs, the head coach stated: “Holly has come through our system in Scotland and done really well. She has been there or thereabouts in terms of our squad since around 2020.
“I have always been impressed with her in terms of her athleticism and her coachability, she really is coachable as she looks at herself and looks at her game to see how it can improve.
“I think playing at 13 regularly has helped her, she has come into this camp with a bit of momentum behind her and she has really kicked on to earn a place.”
Scotland squad for WXV 2:
Forwards: Leah Bartlett (Leicester Tigers), Christine Belisle (Loughborough Lightning), Sarah Bonar (Harlequins), Elliann Clarke (Bristol Bears), Lisa Cockburn (University of Worcester Warriors), Eva Donaldson (Leicester Tigers), Evie Gallagher (University of Worcester Warriors), Jade Konkel (Harlequins), Rachel Malcolm (Loughborough Lightning, captain), Elis Martin (Leicester Tigers), Fiona McIntosh (Saracens), Rachel McLachlan (Sale Sharks), Louise McMillan (Saracens), Lana Skeldon (University of Worcester Warriors), Demi Swann (University of Worcester Warriors), Emma Wassell (Loughborough Lightning), Anne Young (Sale Sharks).
Backs: Beth Blacklock (Saracens), Coreen Grant (Saracens), Caity Mattinson (University of Worcester Warriors), Mairi McDonald (Exeter Chiefs), Francesca McGhie (Leicester Tigers), Holly McIntyre (University of Edinburgh), Rhona Lloyd (GB Sevens/Les Lionnes du Stade Bordelais), Liz Musgrove (Ealing Trailfinders), Helen Nelson (Loughborough Lightning, vice-captain), Emma Orr (Heriot’s/Biggar), Lisa Thomson (GB Sevens), Chloe Rollie (Loughborough Lightning), Meryl Smith (Bristol Bears).
(Photo credit: Scottish Rugby/SNS)