WITH their 36-12 dismantling of Japan at the DAM Health Stadium on Sunday, Scotland took a confident step forward towards their goal of qualifying for the 2022 World Cup in New Zealand. The only problem is that they don’t now know what exactly comes next on this journey.  

Bryan Easson’s side do have a Final Qualification Tournament to play, which we are led to believe will take place in Dubai at some point during January or February. We know that Samoa and Columbia will also be there, but it is not yet decided whether Hong Kong or Kazakhstan will be the fourth competing team.  

It is a farcical situation which is completely unfair on the teams involved. How can they plan and prepare for such an important event with so little clarity? The vast majority, if not all, of the players involved are amateur or part-time, but can’t book leave from work or their studies until somebody at World Rugby makes a decision. 

Covid has been a complicating factor, but there has been nothing like the same urgency to get women’s international rugby back on track as we have seen in the lucrative men’s game.  

“Until the qualifiers are confirmed we can’t 100 percent plan it, but we have the full support of Scottish Rugby and there will be a number of camps in the lead up, but those will be determined on the confirmation [of the tournament dates],” said Scotland captain and flanker Rachel Malcolm after Sunday’s match, she is clearly just as much a diplomat off the field as she is a warrior on it. 

“A number of us play in England so we will be returning to our clubs to get game time there and what we will try and do is have the camps as close to when we go out to the repechage as possible so we can get continuity. 

If the team do eventually qualify for next year’s World Cup, it will be Scotland’s first involvement since 2010. 

“It is an extremely exciting time, we talked a lot this week about the journey we are on,” added Malcolm.

“In my first season in the squad [2016-17] we got our first win for seven years and tonight we got our third win on the bounce, a Scotland team hasn’t done that for a long time.

“We are on an upwards trajectory, but the big thing we have talked about is to not become complacent with that. We want to push Scottish rugby on as far as we possibly can, we all want to leave the shirt in a better place, leave a legacy and inspire the next generation to want to pull on a Scotland shirt. 

“We have got an exciting opportunity heading into 2022 and everyone in and around the squad is focused on making sure we get to the World Cup.”