SCOTLAND hope that their captain's fiftieth cap will be the good-luck omen that will take them to fifth place in the Women's Rugby World Cup in Barcelona. Karen Findlay, the London police officer who leads them, reaches the landmark today when the team play Australia.
It is a repeat of the fifth/sixth place play-off in the 1998 World Cup, which Australia won, but a match that Scotland know they are capable of winning if they play to form. They would match their best finish in the competition, achieved in 1994, if they win, and will at least have lived up to their seeding. The Scots have been forced into two changes with Sarah Higgins, the full back, and Angela Hutt, the wing, picking up injuries in the win over Spain. They are replaced by Alison McGrandles and Jen Dickson, but should not be much weakened. Both could consider themselves unlucky not to be there in the first place.
For the final against New Zealand, England have left Gill Burns, their in-form and legendary No 8, among the replacements. Burns, 37, has played in all four World Cups and was England's star performer in their impressive 53-10 semi-final win over Canada on Tuesday. The final will be Burns's final top-level outing before she retires but she may not get on the field. Geoff Richards, England's head coach, instead will start with Claire Frost, from Saracens, at the back of the scrum. Frost is one of eight changes to the starting team that defeated Canada.
She will form a new-look loose-forward combination with Georgia Stevens, who will play in the less familiar openside flank position, while Jenny Phillips, who has recovered from a stomach bug, will take her place on the blindside.
SCOTLAND: A McGrandles; G Gibbon, V MacDonald, R Petlevannaia, J Dickson; D Fairbairn, P Chalmers; K Findlay, V Wiseman, A Christie, L Cockburn, C Muir, B Macleod, D Kennedy, F Gillanders. Replacements: A McKenzie, V Galbraith, J Hanley, L O'Keefe, J Sheerin, M-P Tierney, R Shepherd.
The Times (London, England) (May 25, 2002): p37