Welcome to our Match Guide to today’s [Saturday] TikTok Women’s Six Nations match between Scotland and Ireland at DAM Health Stadium, kick-off 7:30pm. Here, you’ll find exclusive content from camp, as well as the team news and stats for this final round of fixtures.
What you'll find & where
Setting The Scene
The 2023 TikTok Women’s Six Nations reaches its conclusion this weekend, with Scotland’s hosting of Ireland the final entry in a riveting championship.
Having beaten then-fifth-ranked Italy last Saturday at DAM Health Stadium, and in doing so recording a first win of this iteration of the competition, Scotland have the opportunity to close the book on this season with two Six Nations wins for the first time since 2017 (Wales and Italy).
What’s more, victory over Ireland would claim back-to-back wins in the tournament, a feat not achieved by the country since 2006, when Ireland and Spain (their last appearance before Italy joined) were defeated in the final two rounds.
Scotland will need to overcome an opponent they have not beaten in a Six Nations guise since 2018, when tries from Helen Nelson and Chloe Rollie helped them to an 18-14 success at Donnybrook. Of course, optimism rises out of the dramatic scene of the 2021 Rugby World Cup qualification event, Sarah Law’s last-ditch conversion essentially affording Scotland their place at last year’s rescheduled marquee showpiece in New Zealand.
Head Coach Bryan Easson has picked another settled 23, with Emma Orr’s inclusion at outside centre in Lisa Thomson’s stead the sole change to those who bested Italy last time out.
Thoughts from the Head Coach
Our final fixture of the 2023 TikTok Women’s Six Nations will certainly require another performance of the utmost quality, but in defeating Italy last Saturday, the opportunity to build momentum is clear to see.
Aside from the way in which we took the game to Italy, the brief time the squad took to enjoy their win allowed us to just reward for the effort they have put in since we met in camp ahead of the championship.
Italy are an excellent side, ranked among the best in the world, so to get over the line against them is testament to the preparation and spirit within the group.
Being able to back up what we did last week, and once more in front of the outstanding support from those at DAM Health Stadium, is the focus against Ireland, who themselves will be determined to finish the TikTok Women’s Six Nations with victory.
We know from our last meeting during the qualification process for last year’s Rugby World Cup that Ireland can be a dangerous opponent. This game is the last of a very busy championship and one the players are very much focussed on performing to their best in.
Welcome on behalf of SP Energy Networks
On behalf of SP Energy Networks, I’d like to offer you a very warm welcome in supporting Scotland Women in this year’s TikTok Six Nations.
It is with great pride I reminisce about the past five years and celebrate our many accomplishments during our partnership with Scottish Rugby which has enabled us to challenge perceptions, break barriers and promote inclusion through grassroots rugby.
Since our ground-breaking launch of our partnership in 2018, we have delivered several initiatives that have brought many direct benefits to our communities, particularly enabling us to promote our Priority Service Register to those who need additional support in a power cut.
Our campaign #Notjustforboys has had a positive impact, and our recent Science of Rugby campaign has received many external plaudits. Successful social media content series, including Powering Conversations and ‘Moments that Made Me’ has allowed players to tell the stories of their careers and build authentic connections beyond the pitch with fans and communities, proving that rugby, like engineering, can be a career route for everyone.
Our partnership also extends to Scotland’s U18s and U20s boys’ teams and with the development and rollout of a female coaching programme this year, it underlines our commitment to grassroots rugby.
During our tenure, it has been great to see the team go from strength to strength, notably the team reaching their first Rugby World Cup in 12 years and more recently 28 players receiving full-time contracts, all pointing to further future success.
I’ve only managed to reflect on a small fraction of all that has been achieved over the past five years but even this shows the sheer drive and dedication that exists within Scottish Rugby. And on that note, I wish Scotland Women a triumphant and successful TikTok Six Nations.
CEO, SP Energy Networks
Interview: Helen Nelson focussed on fruitful finale
Having been in receipt of numerous messages and videos from friends and well-wishers in the week she won a 50th cap for Scotland, Helen Nelson is very much enjoying the latter stages of this year’s TikTok Women’s Six Nations.
Throw in a victory against Italy on that landmark occasion, and the 28-year-old can look back on such an achievement with the fondest of memories.
For now, though, all focus is on Ireland as Scotland bid to win back-to-back championship matches for the first time since 2006 at the DAM Health Stadium this weekend.
Reflecting on last Saturday’s win, Helen said: “Spirits are very high and there’s a good buzz around camp but we’re aware that Ireland are coming at us this weekend.
“They’ve called it their cup final so our main message as a group is that we need to be better because to win the game and ultimately get the performance we’ll have to be our best selves. We’re not taking our foot off the gas; we’re striving to be better.”
Such talk is a sign of where Scotland are and where they want to be; a consistently improving unit with aspirations of bagging a Rugby World Cup berth in 2025. Having squeaked past today’s opponents last year, to help seal a berth in New Zealand’s rescheduled Rugby World Cup, Helen knows that the team in green will be intent on redressing the balance in Edinburgh.
“I’ve got absolutely no doubt that that’s still a sore one for them. We’re the ones who took that opportunity away from them, against all odds, so I think it’ll add an bit extra of spice for them for sure.
“They’re a very physical team, they actually gave England a good match at the breakdown and slowed down their ball and made it a bit of a fight there, so they’ll be coming for our breakdowns definitely. Physically, they’ll think they can take us on, so we expect that battle from them.”
The 29-21 success against a fifth-ranked Italy [now sixth] was notable by its nature. Scotland led, as they have done on a number of occasions in recent times, yet withstood a fightback rather than fall foul of late defeat – a point Helen says is something of a statement result: “The last few times we’d played them, they’d beaten us pretty convincingly. It just shows how much we’ve come on and we’re such a young team. The big thing we take away from that game was that we were up against it. When they came back and it was 24-21, I think previously we would have maybe fallen away, but actually we can take so much from getting back a hold of the game and not just lying down. I think that shows a lot of character.
“Recognising that we had made mistakes, realising that maybe the last ten minutes [of games] has not been good enough, realising when we need to get momentum back in our favour; it starts with looking at yourself individually and what you can do right in the next two minutes.
“I think the whole 23 showed that and it’s something we will hang on to and realise it’s a big strength to have.”
With a record crowd well in excess of 4,500 in attendance for the final chapter of this year’s TikTok Women’s Six Nations, the lift given to Scotland by home support is something Helen, like the entire squad, are very grateful for.
“DAM Health for us is unbelievable,” the stand-off said. “The fact the fans are so close, and that the stands are getting fuller and fuller, it’s so, so loud and before the games have started, we’ve talked about Loch Lomond being blasted before kick-off. It fills us with so much confidence and backing and belief.
“Any time there’s a little break, everyone’s chanting ‘Scotland!’ in the crowd. It’s really cool and we’re all very excited for Saturday and that record crowd – it’s going to be great.”
And how great it would be for Helen, on her 51st Scotland appearance, to replicate the winning feeling experienced on the occasion of her half-century.
Getting to Know: Anne Young
Tell us a bit about your rugby journey:
I started playing rugby when I was about 10 years old. It was at Helensburgh Minis, and I joined with my twin sister and our neighbours who were also twins. The four of us went along, but I was the only one who stuck at it! I played there until I was 12, then moved to Hillhead Jordanhill for U15 through to U18. I then went to uni at 18 and played for Edinburgh University, and now I’m at Sale Sharks.
Who is your rugby inspiration?
Looking at some of the senior players in our team, when I started to think I could potentially play for Scotland it was the ones who had been here for six, seven years. They had done the hard yards to get us to where we are now and got us all the privileges that we get.
Which player would you love to play with or against?
Playing next to Emily Scarratt would be good, having her in the team would be pretty cool.
What is your least favourite training drill?
Tyrone (Holmes) does this tackle technique drill that is just hit somebody, get up, hit somebody again, it’s just continuous. There was also one called “the attitude drill” where one person was in the middle and people made a circle around them with tackle bags. You had to get up and hit a bag, and sometimes a coach would stand behind a bag and it would be almost impossible to move them.
What position would you like to play other than front row?
10, one hundred percent! Before this Six Nations I thought I could do it, and then I started running at 10 in forwards drills when we didn’t have any backs and I was like “this is really hard!” The decision making, my brain can’t work that fast. My kicking’s not awful, the crossbar challenge is something I do weekly down at my club. Not awful, but definitely inconsistent.
What is your favourite cheat meal on a day off?
Definitely a burger and chips, classic.
Are there any other sports you’d love to have a go at?
Growing up I used to play a lot of netball, so I’d love to return to that if I could. Hockey is another one as well, I love watching it. I remember watching it at the Olympics in 2016 and I thought it was such a cool sport.
Matchday playlist; what are you listening to at the moment?
Week five of the tournament, the tunes are definitely starting to repeat themselves! We love a Scottish song though, something like a Tide Lines song, that can be really good to get you going. A bit of Macklemore as well.
- Scotland won their most recent match in the TikTok Women’s SixNations (29-21 v Italy) by a margin of eight points after losing eight in a row previously – it was their biggest win in the Championship since 2007 (26-6 v Italy). They have not won consecutive games since 2006 (v Ireland and Spain).
- Scotland have won the most turnovers of any side in this year’s TikTok Women’s SixNations (31), a total which includes 20 turnover-winning tackles, at least six more than any other side – only Wales (44) have conceded fewer turnovers than Scotland (50) in this year’s Championship.
- Ireland (24) and Scotland (21) were the only two sides to a tempt over 20 kicks from hand in Round 4 of this year’s TikTok Women’s Six Nations and also ranked first and second respectively for kicking metres last time out (Ireland 662m, Scotland 655m).
- Scotland won 14 scrums on their own put-in without losing one in the most recent round of the TikTok Women’s Six Nations, the most by any team in a match this campaign, while Ireland are one of just two sides with a success rate of over 90% on their own scrums across the 2023 campaign (91% ,also England – 100%).
- Scotland’s Chloe Rollie has beaten more defenders than any other player in this year’s TikTok Women’s Six Nations (28) and was just one of two players to beat 10+ defenders in the most recent round of fixtures (10) – Rollie also ranks second for metres gained in the championship (375m).