Welcome to our Match Guide to today’s TikTok Women’s Six Nations match between Scotland and Italy at DAM Health Stadium, kick-off 4:45pm. Here, you’ll find exclusive content from camp, as well as the team news and stats for this fourth round of fixtures.
What you'll find & where
Setting The Scene
This afternoon’s TikTok Women’s Six Nations match between Scotland and Italy offers intrigue in that it is a third such meeting in a year between the teams.
As part of Scotland’s successful Rugby World Cup 2021 qualification campaign, both sides lined up in the European four-team play-off for that tournament, hosts Italy topping the standings after the three round robin games ahead of Scotland, Ireland and Spain.
The Italians put in an excellent second-half showing against Bryan Easson’s squad in Parma to record a 38-13 win.
Dramatic Scottish victories over Spain and then Ireland allowed them to grab a Rugby World Cup spot by virtue of a repechage win over Colombia, so joining today’s opponents in New Zealand at the tail end of last year.
In terms of the TikTok Women’s Six Nations, last year’s fixture was a tight affair, Italy overturning an interval deficit to nudge to a 20-13 win, again in Parma. An Emma Wassell try, as well as eight points from the boot of Helen Nelson, was ultimately in vain as Italy scored a late converted try to take the spoils.
With much of recent years’ championship upset by Covid-19, you would need to go back to 2017 to source Scotland’s last success in the fixture when two Rhona Lloyd tries, both converted by Lana Skeldon, saw the hosts win 14-12 at Broadwood Stadium.
In this year’s TikTok Women’s Six Nations to date, Italy have registered one win, beating Ireland 24-7 in round three with the impressive Alyssa D’Incà scoring a brace of tries.
Thoughts from the Head Coach
With two remaining 2023 TikTok Women’s Six Nations fixtures, the prospect of hosting both Italy and then Ireland at the DAM Health Stadium gives us an opportunity to put in our best performances of the championship, in front of our passionate home support.
We have come up against some extremely strong opposition so far, but there were parts of what we have done, especially in the narrow home defeat to Wales, that we want to use as a foundation to finish the competition in the best possible manner.
Italy will again provide a stern test this afternoon and they showcased just how effective an attacking unit they can be in their win against Ireland last weekend.
In selecting the squad for today’s match, we have made a few changes through injury and to freshen up a group that has worked to a six-day turnaround from playing France last Sunday.
Jade Konkel-Roberts moves into the second row to accommodate Rachel McLachlan’s return to the back row, with Evie Gallagher moving to No 8 in what is a very mobile pack.
Mairi McDonald gets a first start of the championship at scrum-half, with Meryl Smith coming back in to join Lisa Thomson in a new-look centre partnership.
It means a great deal to the squad to represent Scotland in front of our own supporters as we bid to finish off the 2023 TikTok Women’s Six Nations with two progressive home performances, starting against Italy today.
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 boy’s 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 5 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: Lisa relishing home comforts
It’s been seven years since Lisa Thomson made her Scotland debut against England at Broadwood Stadium, but it would be fair to suggest that the 25-year-old centre would rank her 50th international appearance as being amongst her most nerve-jangling.
She reached the landmark against France in Vannes last Sunday, the relief at arriving at a half-century of caps evident: “It had such a big build-up to it, from when I was a few caps away, and then in the week itself I didn’t want to think about it until I was named in the team,” Lisa explained.
“Then you start thinking about training sessions and warm-ups; I’ve never thought about just getting through a warm-up in my life!”
Lisa’s warm-up gladly went without incident and she became the most recent 50-capper in Scotland colours, following on from the likes of Sarah Law, Emma Wassell, Lana Skeldon, Jade Konkel-Roberts and Chloe Rollie, who all did likewise in the past year.
“I got a nice video message in the build-up, with a collage of moments from my career, which was cool. I also got nice messages from some of the people who aren’t here – we’ve got a few injured girls who are close friends, who weren’t able to be there.
“It was just a game of rugby at the end of the day, it didn’t feel different to any other. It’ll be nice to be at home to play Italy in front of friends and family – the last time I played at DAM Health was against USA last year. It’s class and we absolutely love it.”
With two matches to come on home territory, the feel good factor that comes with such occasions is something that Lisa hopes can spur Scotland to a strong finish to the 2023 TikTok Women’s Six Nations.
Lisa added: “The tunnel, the bit we walk along where the fans line the barriers; it’s so cool to see young girls coming up and asking for photos and stuff. When we first started playing there, I remember we thought it was this huge walk there, but it’s actually one of the best things about playing there.”
Having enjoyed stints with GB7s already in 2022, recently returning from a bronze finish at the HSBC World Series event in Hong Kong, Lisa clearly cannot wait to continue in dark blue as a fresh half-centurion, succinctly putting it: “You only get it if you’re Scottish, don’t you?
“There’s nothing quite like playing for Scotland.”
Getting to Know: Beth Blacklock
Tell us a bit about your rugby journey:
So, I played a bit of minis when I was about eight years old and then I begged my parents to let me quit because I wanted to play football. I stopped playing rugby until I got to university and I picked it back up when I was studying at Durham University. I played there for five or six years before joining DMP Sharks which was the start of my Premier 15s journey and then moved down to London and joined Harlequins and now I’m with Scotland!
Which football team do you support?
Growing up I supported West Ham but now I’m a Man City supporter.
Who would be your rugby inspirations to this point?
I grew up watching a lot of men’s rugby so loved Sonny Bill Williams and Jonny Wilkinson but I’d say now that I’m playing it tends to be those that I play with at the clubs. I absolutely love playing with Emily Scott and her work ethic is amazing, as well as playing with Emily Chance at Harlequins who is a great person.
Which player would you love to play with, or against?
A player that I’d love to play with is actually Lisa Thomson. I haven’t played with Thommo yet for Scotland but I used to play with her at DMP Sharks and I absolutely loved it. I used to play at 12 and she would play at 13 and it was just a great time.
In terms of playing against, I always love playing against good 12s so Tatyana Heard, Amber Reed and Gabrielle Vernier.
What’s your least favourite training drill?
I hate the small 3v2 and 4v3 just because it is always touch rugby which does not play to what I like! You have people like Emma who are like ‘yeah I’m going to snake my way through’.
What position would you like to play if not a centre?
I’ve always kept to backline because I love that kicking element of the game but if I wasn’t playing at centre I’ve always loved the idea of playing back-row. It’s odd for a back to give that answer!
Favourite cheat meal on a day off?
My go-to food is always chicken. I love chicken so it would be any form of that. For a cheat meal, it would be something like chicken selects.
Are there any other sports you’d love to have a go at?
I always grew up playing different sports like watersports, football and cricket but I would love to play hockey. I’ve never played it and always been interested in giving it a go.
Matchday Playlists – what are you listening to at the moment?
I’ve got a specific playlist that I listen to on the way into the stadium and I always pick one song beforehand that I listen to on repeat and around 80% of the time it is an AC/DC song!
- 43% of Scotland’s carries in the TikTok Women’s Six Nations this year have been dominant; only France (44%) boast a better rate, while Italy have the lowest dominant carry rate (28%). However, the Italians have recorded a better gainline success rate (59%) than Scotland (46%) this campaign.
- Scotland have slotted four of their five kicks at goal so far in this year’s TikTok Women’s Six Nations – their 80% success rate is the best of any team, while Italy have the second best rate when kicking for goal (71%, 5/7).
- Scotland (590) and Italy (571) are the only teams to have made 500+ tackles in the Championship this year. Italy have also made the most dominant tackles of any team (35), while Scotland have made the fewest (19).
- Three of the top four tacklers in the Championship this year play for Scotland – Evie Gallagher has made the most of any player overall (55), just ahead of Lana Skeldon (54), while Rachel Malcolm (48) has made the fourth most (Ireland’s Neve Jones 3rd – 49).
Scotland scored 22 points in their most recent home match (22-34 v Wales), their highest tally without winning in a match in the Championship.