THE Commonwealth Games are a huge moment in the career of Caity Mattinson but perhaps even more significantly, they are massive for women’s rugby in this country as a whole. 

Scotland’s women will make their Commonwealth Games debut at Birmingham 2022, with their campaign opening today against Fiji. 

Mattinson is, unsurprisingly, thrilled about the personal achievement of making her Games debut, but perhaps even more so, she is hugely excited about what these next few days could do for women’s rugby in Scotland

“We’ve talked loads about inspiring the next generation and hopefully Birmingham will have an effect on the impact we can have,” the 26-year-old says. 

“It’s huge to be a part of the Games.  

“I really hope there’s kids out there who’ve never seen rugby before but watch it for the first time because it’s part of the Commonwealth Games. 

“I remember watching rugby at the Commonwealth Games in Manchester in 2002 and it really does reach a wide audience. 

“Especially being 7s, it’s such an exciting game to watch – it’s a really good way to introduce people to the sport.” 

Mattinson is a relative newcomer to both the Scotland set-up, and the sevens game. 

She was born in Inverness but moved down south as a three-year-old, where she began playing rugby. 

Having been a part of the English rugby system throughout her youth, she then made her international debut for England in 2017, making seven appearances. 

However, after World Rugby changed the eligibility rules for internationalists earlier this year, Mattinson realised she was eligible for an immediate switch to Scotland and, she admits, it didn’t take her long to make the decision. 

“When I was a kid, I always wanted to play for Scotland – I always pictured myself wearing a blue shirt,” she says. 

“The first international games of rugby I ever saw were at Murrayfield.  

“Every time I was back in Scotland, I had such a good time and so I always associated Scotland with such happy memories and I was always so proud to be supporting Scotland. 

“Living in the north east of England though, I just got caught up in the English pathway – I don’t regret any of that and I learnt a lot on that journey but it was a no brainer for me when the opportunity to switch to Scotland came up. 

“I’ve been really welcomed by Scotland and it didn’t take me long to convince the girls that this is where I wanted to be and that I’m here for the right reasons.” 

Scrum half Mattinson, who plays her club rugby for Worcester Warriors, made her Scotland international debut in February of this year and helped Scotland qualify for next year’s World Cup, before being brought into the sevens set-up just a few months before Birmingham 2022. 

Having had no experience of the sevens game, Mattinson admits she was somewhat apprehensive but she has slotted in seamlessly and she is feeling hugely positive about the form of the squad as they come into one of the biggest tournaments in their history. 

“Sevens is definitely hard work but I’ve loved it. I wasn’t sure if sevens was going to suit me or not but it’s gone well and I feel like I’m learning all the time which is a fun place to be as a player,” she says 

“The squad’s in a really good place – I unfortunately missed the recent Rugby Europe Championship through injury but the girls played really well and there was a couple of outstanding performances where everything we’d spoken about pre-tournament was on show and when you can see that training transferred onto the pitch, it’s a real confidence boost.” 

The Scots will have to be on top form if they are to make an impact over the next three days. 

Having been drawn in the same group as Australia, South Africa and their opening opponents, Fiji, Scotland face some of the best sevens players in the world but a recent victory over England was a significant boost to the squad’s confidence and Mattinson admits they head into Birmingham optimistic they can cause a few ripples on their Games debut. 

“It was massive beating England,” she says.  

“There were parts to that game that weren’t perfect but we just worked incredibly hard for each other because it meant so much to every one of us.  

“To have come out the other side with a win, was the highlight of my rugby career so far and I think that’s probably how a lot of the girls felt. So it was really cool to get that result and a massive confidence boost. 

It helps having beaten one of the big sides and we have ambitions to go far in this tournament – we don’t have it easy but we’re excited to get started.”