By the end of today, Scotland could be holding a European Championship title. The country's women rugby players face Spain, who they have already beaten 19 8 this season, in the final of the FIRA competition in Lille, France.
"It has been a fantastic team effort," Peter Brownlee, the coach, said yesterday. "We came to the competition with our hopes riding high, we have been 100 per cent focused on the game we wanted to play and we have been getting better and better as the competition has gone on.
"The girls want to win this for themselves, and it would be a considerable achievement, but it would also do so much for the women's game in Scotland if we were able to come back with the title."
The team were already in the elite group, and started with a hard-fought 13-3 win over Wales, with Jennifer Dickinson, of Richmond, getting the try while Paula Chalmers, of Murrayfield Wanderers, kicked a conversion and two penalties. They followed that by coming from behind to beat France 9-6, with Chalmers getting all the points from kicks.
"Basically, we squeezed the life out of them," Brownlee said. "The forwards were magnificent and while I would rather they had played more of their rugby in the opposition 22, you can't complain."
Spain, who are previous European winners, will be no pushover after defeating England in their semi-final, but the Scots say they are ready for the physical challenge they pose. "There are not many surprises in store at this level," Brownlee said. "We don't expect to see much as far as back moves and three-quarter play is concerned, they will try to boot the ball down into our half and drive us from there.
"If the forwards can repeat their showing in earlier matches, then we can come home as European champions."
The Times (London, England) (May 12, 2001): p44