SCOTLAND head coach Bryan Easson says his team know that they are only just starting out on the journey which they hope will lead to a first appearance at a World Cup Finals since 2010 in New Zealand next October, and he has promised that there is no danger of his players taking their foot off the gas.

A last-minute try by Chloe Rollie and conversion by Sarah Law secured a dramatic 20-18 victory over Ireland on Saturday night to secure second place in the European World Cup Qualifier repechage tournament which has been played out in Parma, Italy, during the last fortnight.

It was a remarkable result against a team Scotland had managed to defeat only once in 15 previous encounters stretching back to 2007. However, having lost their opening game of the tournament against Italy, the Scots finished only second in the table – meaning they must now play a final qualifying tournament, and that will be a step into the unknown.

Based on World Rugby’s global rankings system, Scotland – who have climbed from 11th to ninth during the last fortnight – should be favourites, ahead of 16th ranked Samoa, 26th ranked Columbia, and one out of 12th ranked Japan, 15th ranked Kazakhstan and 18th ranked Hong Kong. But the only team out of that group to have faced Scotland during the last 15 years is Japan, who were 20-24 winners when the two sides met at Scotstoun in November in 2019. 

It is understood that this final repechage tournament will be played in January, but that is not confirmed, and we don’t know where it will be played.
“We’ll enjoy the moment because the girls deserve to celebrate,” said Easson. “Then, when we get back to Scotland, we’ll sit down as a management team and work the rest of it out.  

“We’ve worked really hard for this, and you can see that,” he added. “We’ve not just won two games here. Over the last seven games, we’ve drawn with France and won another three other matches, so we’re going in the right direction, but we’re certainly not resting on our laurels. We’re determined to keep improving, improving and improving.” 

For his part, Easson insisted that he never doubted his team’s ability to find a way of winning, even when they were 18-13 down and hemmed deep inside their own 22 with seven minutes to go. 

“I thought there was a turning point in the game when Ireland at 18-13 had a kickable penalty and took the tap,” he reflected. “We soaked that up then turned them over and it was interesting just watching the energy that gave us. 

“We played like we knew we would get another opportunity and I think that is testament to the group. That belief has not just come from this game or the game before, it has come from the work we have put in over the last two years. 

“We’ve worked really hard on and off the field, and that showed in our fitness, and our sheer determination and grit to win that game. 

“People have asked me about how nervous I was in that last five minutes, but I honestly believed we would get another chance, and we just kept going and kept going, and deserve everything we got.” 

It did look like Scotland may have blown it when centre Lisa Thomson overcooked a penalty into the corner with 90 seasons to go which should have set-up the same sort of attacking line-out as team had scored from through Lana Skeldon at the start of the second half, but even then they hardly wavered. 

“I would say a little wobble but there was still time and with a drop-out 22 we were going to receive the ball back,” said Easson. “We went again and the pride that gives me is huge.” 

As for Law's late conversion, which was from only a few yards to the right of the posts but heaped with pressure, Easson said it was a foregone conclusion as far as he was concerned.

“She’s the calmest person we’ve got in this squad," he concluded. "She’s got such a good rugby brain – she understands the game inside out – and for her to just place the ball down there and stroke it through the posts … I’ll be honest, I didn’t really doubt it.

“She works hard on her kicking. Mossy [Chris Paterson] has done a great job helping her with her technique and her processes, so a big thanks to him on that.

“If there is one person you want to kick a goal for you in the last play of the game, it is Sarah Law.”