nicole flynn
Who are the seven uncapped players in Scotland's 34-strong training squad for this year's Championship?

Fiona McIntosh of Saracens is the one who has already had experience with the squad, travelling to South Africa for the WXV 2 triumph late last year, but not making a matchday 23.

Of late she has been made available to play for Edinburgh Rugby in the Celtic Challenge and has been a steadying influence on that group who has been praised by the head coach Claire Cruikshank.

Before the WXV 2 exploits, Scotland’s skipper for that event Rachel Malcolm said: “I think Fi McIntosh knew all the lineout calls by the second day she was with us and that is testament to the kind of person she is and the kind of hard worker she is.”

The other uncapped forwards are Merryn Gunderson and Alex Stewart.

The Corstorphine Cougars/Edinburgh Rugby duo have impressed in both the domestic Premiership and in the Celtic Challenge in recent months and they are both energetic and physical back-rows.

“Both Merryn and Alex are exceptional players,” Corstorphine Cougars head coach Eric Jones said.

I’m so pleased for them both to get a shot at getting into the Six Nations squad.

“For anyone that has been involved in the girls game in Scotland over the last five years or has followed the club game in the last two years, it’ll is no surprise that these two are achieving great things.

“They are both great people - it’s been a privilege to be part of both their journeys so far and I’m looking forward to hearing and seeing how they get on going forward.”

Scrum-half Leia Brebner-Holden is a new name to many Scottish rugby supporters and she grew up in Abu Dhabi in the UAE and now is dual-registered player with Gloucester-Harpury and Cheltenham Tigers in England.

Recently she has also played for Edinburgh Rugby in the Celtic Challenge and the player, whose mother was born in Inverness, said: “After a few tougher times during the pandemic, Cheltenham was where my love of playing rugby really stepped back up a notch and, as of this season, I have been dual-registered with Gloucester-Hartpury.

“That has been a very welcoming club too and a great environment to be a part of while playing with Edinburgh in the Celtic Challenge has been brilliant too and it is just cool to be involved in so many great squads.”

Bristol Bears centre/winger Meg Varley qualifies for Scotland through her paternal grandmother from Edinburgh and she has been in great form in England’s top flight this term.

Varley was forced off for Bristol over the weekend and is currently undergoing assessment to find out more about the potential injury, but hopefully she will recover quickly and the former England U20 cap said: “There have been a lot of changes in my life recently having moved to Bristol just last summer, but I wanted to give this a go, so to be named as part of the wider Scotland training squad was a bit surreal, but really exciting.”

Last, but certainly by no means least, is an exciting young wing duo in the shape of University of Edinburgh/Edinburgh Rugby pair Nicole Flynn (pictured) and Cieron Bell.

Teenager Flynn was playing for Scotland U18s as recently as last year while she starred as Stirling County won the domestic Premiership in 2022/23 and was rewarded with a Scottish Futures call up.

Now she has been catapulted into the main squad and Mark Ainsworth, the Stirling County head coach who previously worked with her, said: “I first came across Nicole about six months into her rugby career and already it was evident she had huge potential.

“I coached her at U18 club level and when she moved up to women’s rugby she already had pace and power while she is continuously seeking to improve her skills and knowledge.

“She is not afraid to ask lots of questions and is always looking for the perfect performance. In addition, she has a winning mentality which gives her an edge.”

Bell came through the ranks at Cumnock and Ayr and has scored five tries in six Celtic Challenge games so far.

“Having Scotland caps like Jenny Maxwell, Caity Mattinson, Sarah Denholm, Lisa Thomson and Emma Orr playing inside of me recently has been brilliant for me and my development - they have certainly made my job a lot easier with Edinburgh,” the player joked.

“The two things I have been really working on with their help has been communication out there on the pitch and working off my wing to go looking for opportunities.”

Scotland Women Extended Training Squad:


Leah Bartlett (Leicester Tigers)*; Christine Belisle (Loughborough Lightning)*; Sarah Bonar (Harlequins)*; Elliann Clarke (Bristol Bears)*; Lisa Cockburn (Leicester Tigers)*; Eva Donaldson (Leicester Tigers)*; Evie Gallagher (Bristol Bears)*; Merryn Gunderson (Corstorphine Cougars/Edinburgh Rugby)**; Rachel Malcolm (Loughborough Lightning)*; Elis Martin (Leicester Tigers)*; Fiona McIntosh (Saracens)**; Rachel McLachlan (Sale Sharks)*; Louise McMillan (Saracens)*; Lana Skeldon (Bristol Bears)*; Alex Stewart (Corstorphine Cougars/Edinburgh Rugby)**; Emma Wassell (Loughborough Lightning)*; Molly Wright (Sale Sharks)*; Anne Young (Sale Sharks)*


Cieron Bell (University of Edinburgh/Edinburgh Rugby)**; Beth Blacklock (Saracens)*; Leia Brebner-Holden (Gloucester-Hartpury/Cheltenham Tigers)**; Shona Campbell (GB 7s)*; Nicole Flynn (University of Edinburgh/Edinburgh Rugby)**; Coreen Grant (Saracens)*; Caity Mattinson (Gloucester-Hartpury)*; Mairi McDonald (Exeter Chiefs)*; Francesca McGhie (Leicester Tigers)*; Rhona Lloyd (GB 7s/ Stade Bordelais)*; Helen Nelson (Loughborough Lightning)*; Emma Orr (Heriot’s Blues/Edinburgh Rugby)*; Lisa Thomson (GB 7s)*; Chloe Rollie (Loughborough Lightning)*; Meryl Smith (Bristol Bears)*; Megan Varley (Bristol Bears)**

*Contracted player **Uncapped player

Image courtesy of Bryan Robertson Photography.