IT was a tough day for Scotland’s women’s rugby team when they met the Auld Enemy on their own home turf on Saturday, with England winning 57-5.

England are the world leaders at the moment, having not lost a game since 2019. Although on paper Scotland don’t seem too far behind them, coming in at ninth in the rankings, the gulf between the two teams was evident, but that is also “at the moment”.

Rugby in Scotland for women and girls is growing steadily and with the great support that is coming from the Scottish Rugby Union,

I am sure the squad will relish the opportunity to narrow the gap in future meetings.

The build-up which surrounded the game was excellent, with lots of good stories coming out of the SRU about the players, not only in the press but throughout social media.

This gave us all a chance to get to know them better and understand the commitment and passion they have to win for their country. We heard about their professions, their family and their hopes and dreams, and it drew us even closer to them.

However, as usual, there are those who do not understand the growth of women’s sport, the different point where each country commenced their own particular journey; the work it has taken to be included within each of their governing body’s plans; and where funding and resources are invested into the women’s game.

Women in sport have been denied this for so long and are playing catch-up, but for those who close their eyes to this and only criticise, it doesn’t really matter what is said – they are not willing to listen.

The match referee was Joy Neville from Ireland and, as she took to the park, the commentator advised that this was her first game coming back from maternity leave.

It was good to hear that she has returned, and we should be thankful that the former World Rugby Referee of the Year felt passionate enough about her sport to continue with this role.

I know Scotland’s women’s team will go on to prove the doubters wrong. They are a close-knit bunch of players, looking out for each other and, as I said, are focused on making their country proud.

While their heads may be down, their spirit is still strong and they will rise again.