By Kaylan Geekie at Scotstoun | UWS Sport
Scotland Women’s coach Shade Munro cut a proud figure and was upbeat after his side’s 5-10 loss to Spain in the first legRugby: Scotland’s Women’s Rugby World Cup hopes hanging by a thread after Spain defeat of two ties for a spot at the 2017 World Cup in Ireland.
Spain were crowned winners of the Rugby Europe Women’s Championship last month by defeating the Netherlands 35-7 in the final to set up the showdown with Scotland.
The victors over the two legs will join holders England, the United States and Italy at the showpiece event next year.
The Scots’ Iberian counterparts boast a host of players who competed in Rio at this years sevens tournament at the Olympics and their experience shone through on an ice-cold night at Scotstoun.
“It’s basically 10-5 [at the halfway point of the tie],” said Munro. “It’s half-time and it’s about what they going to do to prepare for next week’s game.
“Would I have taken 10-5 before the game started? One of the main things you want is that you are still in the tie. We’ve got something to play for when we go over there.
“It’s 50/50 I would say. We’re definitely going to give it our best shot.”
Scotland dominated territory and possession but only had the one try, scored by Deborah McCormack to show for their labour. Scotland played with energy and intensity, those two oft stated words in high-level sport and the coach was happy with his team’s performance.
Munro said: “The fitness levels of the girls and the work-rate they put in, has made a huge difference and you can see it on the park. Being able to compete comes down to that.
“Their rugby knowledge has improved but the fitness levels have come on in leaps and bounds, not only the academy but the players out-with that set-up as well.
“They turn up at 7am three times a week; that’s what it means to play for their country and I’m glad. The benefits of the work they put in showed tonight.”
When asked about the mood in the change-room after the close defeat he said: “They were pretty down but no tears. They’re very positive about some passages of play. There’s just some things that need to be tightened up on.”
He added: “We’re learning, the team is learning. The more competitive games you get, the better they [the players] get and you can see it game by game. They know that they’ve played well, they know they could have won that.
“It’s not all doom and gloom because they lost. I think the biggest hurdle is winning, it always is with any team. The minute you win a game you learn how to win. You become more composed, you get bused to certain situations.
“It’s sporting nature and bound to happen. So once we get that win – and it will come – we can build from there.”
The cold, wet Scottish weather would have hampered the Spanish players, who are used to playing in milder conditions in Madrid, so Munro expects them to be more clinical than in Glasgow.
He knows what it will take more than to win and feels that more of the same from Friday evening’s display will help turn over the five-point deficit.
“We managed to stop them at the source; the set-piece and contact. We put them under pressure and it put them off to a certain extent. We will have to work on our defence – the width of our defence – and our organisation needs a bit of work.”