Scotland Women blog: Rhona Lloyd
As Scotland Women prepare for their final match in the inaugural WXV 2 competition, we take a look at the team’s values of “Team First”, “Believe and Inspire” and “Fight for our Family” that have been implemented in camp. This week, winger Rhona Lloyd gives her view on what “Believe and Inspire” means to her.
I got my first cap for Scotland Women in 2016. The same day as Lisa Thomson, the same campaign as Helen Nelson and the same year as Rachel Malcolm, Sarah Bonar and Louise McMillan. At that point it had been six years since we had won a Six Nations match and Scotland Women had not been represented at a World Cup since 2010. We dreamed of achieving things as a squad that had never been experienced before by any individual in the squad at that time. And we did.
During shirt presentation the night before the third game of the 2017 Six Nations our coach at the time, Shade Munro, asked us collectively if we are ready to win a Six Nations game. We unanimously said yes. He asked us to pick a song we would sing when we won. We picked Tubthumping by Chumbawumba (“we’ll be singing when we’re winning” – the lyrics seemed fitting). We came into the changing rooms at half time of the match 14-0 down against Wales. Shade asked us again if we were ready to win a game. The game ended with a 15-14 victory and two weeks later we beat Italy in the same campaign. On both occasions we sang. Winning is habitual and winning teams aren’t made overnight. Emma Wassell, who was first capped in 2014, played 20 consecutive test matches before she won in a Scotland jersey. Francesca McGhie, our most recent cap, has won five of the eight test matches under her belt.
While in 2016 the ambition was to build a winning culture in Scotland Women, seven years later during this first instalment of WXV it has become an expectation. This has been made possible by leaning on and living our core values of “Believe and Inspire”. Belief to me is multifaceted – it’s believing in myself and the team, believing in our game plan, and above all the belief that we can achieve things that have never been done before. This built the foundation of our focus going into our game against the USA last Friday. Scotland Women had not won against the USA since 2001, nor had we had five consecutive wins since 2001. We recognised the magnitude of the opportunity that lay in front of us; to continue to rewrite the history of Scotland Women. And as a player named in the 23 for the match I felt privileged to wear the Scotland shirt and to represent the wider squad knowing that they believed in me. Despite the pressure of the moment, the belief in our preparation and each other took the spotlight during the match. We finished 24-14 and go into the third round of WXV with the opportunity to win the title.
Another huge motivator throughout my journey with Scotland and for the current squad during this tour has been to inspire. Through our performances we want to inspire girls and women in Scotland to pick up a rugby ball, to inspire the continuous growth and development of the women’s game in Scotland and ultimately inspire the next generation of players to wear the Scotland shirt. And when I need inspiration myself I don’t have to look further than the incredible women around me. The players in the squad balancing work and study alongside preparations during this tour, the selflessness of the players outside the match day 23 in their role to help prepare the playing team and the outstanding work rate on the pitch of the empowering players around me.
While our time in the squad is finite I know these same values of “Believe and Inspire” are going to continue to take the Scotland women’s shirt to other places it’s not been before. You only need to look as far as the players capped in the last 18 months – Caity Mattinson, Eva Donaldson, Meryl Smith, Emma Orr, Elliann Clarke, Elis Martin and Francesca McGhie – to know that it’s in safe hands.
This Friday’s match sees Scotland looking to conclude their first ever WXV campaign on high, with the side in contention for claiming the WXV 2 trophy. Scotland will face Japan – who secured a 32-10 win against Samoa last week – at Athlone Stadium, Cape Town (kick-off 1pm UK time / 2pm local time).
You can catch all the action live on BBC iPlayer, BBC Sport Scotland and RugbyPass TV. For an explainer on World Rugby’s new competition, including details on all of Scotland’s fixtures and opponents, click HERE.