The two teams play each other in Dubai to decide who will secure the final place in Pool A a this year's tournament
Scotland v Colombia Preview: Who will bag their spot at Rugby World Cup?
Scotland take on Colombia on Friday in the Rugby World Cup 2021 final qualifier and whatever the outcome in Dubai it will be a historic day in women’s rugby.
Colombia have never qualified for a World Cup while if Scotland take the last spot, it will be the first time they have featured in the women’s global showpiece event since 2010.
On the road to this final qualification match, Scotland secured a late win over Ireland and defeated Spain in European qualifying in September. Colombia beat Brazil and then defeated Kenya in their first-ever match overseas. They then overcame Kazakhstan 18-10 on 19 February, despite being down to 14 players after Maribel Mestra was red-carded in the 15th minute.
There is a lot of debate around how much of a battle Colombia can give the Scots. Scotland are favourites in the Rugby World Cup qualifier – they are 16 places higher in the world rankings – but if Colombia play as they did against Kazakhstan the match may be a lot closer than some think.
“I think for all of us we’ve never gone into a tournament as favourites, but the bottom line for me is not to change anything,” says Scotland captain Rachel Malcolm.
“We’ve always been a team who focus on ourselves, focus on our detail and analyse the opposition, and we’ve always been a team who respect the opposition regardless of who we’re playing. That won’t change just because some numbers on a piece of paper say we’re higher ranked or favourites.
“We have experiences of always being the underdog. I don’t think for one second being favourites will cross our minds. It won’t change how we approach things.”
And Colombia’s captain Leidy Soto has a simple request ahead of the fixture: “We want them to respect us.”
Whoever wins the match will be go into Pool A at this year’s World Cup alongside hosts New Zealand, Australia and Wales.
Scotland v Colombia: Team news
Scotland’s starting XV sees Helen Nelson at inside-centre with Sarah Law taking the reins at fly-half. Lightning-fast Rhona Lloyd is on the right-wing with Megan Gaffney on the left and Chloe Rollie at full-back.
The front row is made up of Leah Bartlett, Lana Skeldon and Christine Belisle while the back row of captain Rachel Malcolm, Rachel McLachlan and Jade Konkel are all capable of making many metres over the gainline.
On the bench Eva Donaldson and Caity Mattinson could win their first caps. Mattinson won caps for England in 2017-18 but under World Rugby’s new eligibility rules she can now play for Scotland – making her the first women’s player to make the switch.
Head coach Bryan Easson has picked an experienced side and he said of his selection: “It was quite an easy decision for me to make to be honest. When you look at a game like this experienced heads help when the team is under a bit more pressure than we have been before.
“We have been in those tight situations, namely against Spain and Ireland in Italy, so we have coped with that so it is nothing new, but the more experience you have the better.”
Colombia have made two changes from their win over Kazahkstan.
Maribel Mestra is unable to compete as she has been banned for three weeks following the disciplinary hearing into her red card in the last match. Angie Manyoma comes in, starting at six, which sees Valeria Munoz move to openside and Tatiana Hernandez start at No 8.
In the backs, Laura Mejia gets the nod at full-back ahead of Valentina Tapias, who drops to the bench. In the replacements, Gales Avendano and Liz Brant could win their first caps.
Scotland: Chloe Rollie; Rhona Lloyd, Lisa Thomson, Helen Nelson, Megan Gaffney; Sarah Law, Jenny Maxwell; Leah Bartlett, Lana Skeldon, Christine Belisle, Emma Wassell, Louise McMillan, Rachel Malcolm (captain), Rachel McLachlan, Jade Konkel.
Replacements: Molly Wright, Lisa Cockburn, Katie Dougan, Eva Donaldson, Evie Gallagher, Caity Mattinson, Evie Wills, Shona Campbell.
Colombia: Laura Mejia; Juliana Soto, Leidy Soto (captain), Isabel Cristina Romero, Maria Isabel Aruzaga; Maria Camila Lopera, Yamileth Andrea Ramirez; Ailyn Andrioly, Natalia Barajas, Claudia Alejandra Betancur, Laura Valentina Alvarez, Annagith Vargas, Angie Manyoma, Valeria Munoz, Tatiana Hernandez.
Replacements: Gales Avendano, Silvia Olave, Gisel Gomez, Lizabeth Brant, Catalina Arango, Yina Quintero, Valentina Tapias, Leidy Garcia.
Scotland v Colombia: How to watch
The match is available for fans to watch on BBC Alba in the UK and you can also stream the game on World Rugby’s digital and social channels, including the World Rugby YouTube channel.
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