Scotland have joined New Zealand, Australia and Wales in Pool A for Rugby World Cup 2021 after they defeated Colombia 59-3 in the Final Qualification Tournament decider in Dubai on Friday, 25 February.
The Scots, ninth in the World Rugby Women’s Rankings powered by Capgemini, were favourites before kick-off, but knew that 25th in the world Colombia would give it their all – and they certainly did at The Sevens Stadium.
However, the Scots’ experience showed and they have qualified for their first showpiece event since 2010.
Scotland head coach Bryan Easson said: “I am so proud of the team, this has been a long journey, but now we are going to a World Cup and we are so happy.
“I was pleased with how we controlled this game and now we can start building towards New Zealand.”
Lissete Martinez, the Colombia head coach, was proud of her team’s performance and said: “This trip to Dubai has been a great experience for us.
“To play against a team of the quality of Scotland shows us the levels we want to try to get to and now we want to try and push on and grow women’s rugby in our country.
“For us to do that we have to play test matches and get more games against good sides, but we hope what we have done in Dubai has inspired young girls in our country to take up the sport.”
Scotland took the lead in the third minute when fly-half Sarah Law kicked a penalty to settle any nerves.
Two minutes later, in-form winger Rhona Lloyd had a good break down the right, but she was stopped well. Play was taken back for an earlier penalty in front of the posts though and Law made no mistake with the kick to make it 6-0.
They then scored a great team try in the 10th minute. Hooker Lana Skeldon broke up the middle and then fed back-row Rachel McLachlan. She was stopped, but the ball was recycled right and centre Lisa Thomson showed good power to score. Law’s conversion missed, but it was 11-0.
In the 16th minute, Colombia did win a free-kick at a scrum to show their power in the forwards, but Scotland regained the ball from a loose clearing kick and, a minute later, winger Megan Gaffney went over in the corner. Law missed the conversion, but Scotland had a 16-point advantage.
Alejandra Betancur, the Colombian tight-head prop, was trying to lead her side back into things, but the Scots just had too much power and pace.
Their third try came in the 27th minute when Law went close and then fed Lloyd who dived over from short range. The conversion just fell short from out wide.
Colombia’s heads had not gone down in any way though – we saw their battling spirit against Kazakhstan – and six minutes before the break they got points on the board when winger Maria Isabel Arzuaga kicked a penalty.
Under pressure in the forwards, they then brought Silvia Olave on for Ailyn Andrioly, but Scotland bagged their fourth try just before the break. A nice dummy by Law saw her score – and convert – to make it 28-3 at the interval.
Three minutes into the second half try number five came for the Scots, Law’s delayed pass setting up Gaffney to run in for her second of the match. Law converted for 35-3.
In the game last week against Kazakhstan, Colombia managed to get Arzuaga and fellow winger Juliana Soto on the ball, but the Scottish defence were not allowing their opponents time or space to settle.
Things got harder for the Colombians in the 53rd minute when centre Isabel Romero was yellow carded for a deliberate knock-on.
From the resultant five-metre scrum, number eight Jade Konkel powered her way over for a try and Law converted to make it 42-3.
Caity Mattinson, a scrum-half who previously gained seven England caps, then came on for her Scotland debut and try number seven came just before the hour mark through hooker Skeldon.
With both sides bringing on more replacements, Scotland’s eighth try came in the 64th minute through replacement back Evie Wills.
Replacement hooker Molly Wright scored try number nine, centre Helen Nelson converting, before Colombia missed a penalty chance as they never gave up.
The last five minutes came and went before the final whistle sparked celebrations from Scotland captain Rachel Malcolm and her team-mates.
Malcolm added: “It’s the best feeling I’ve felt in my entire life. It probably sounds a bit over the top but as a wee girl I dreamt of playing in this shirt, as did everyone in that squad today and to go out there and play with some of my best mates and perform for Scotland and get Scotland into a Rugby World Cup – I can’t even begin to explain how much it means to me and to everyone in that changing room.“