3 Nov 2022
Scotland making the most of extra year to prepare for Wheelchair World Cup
Skipper Michael Mellon believes team have benefited greatly from 12-month delay
By Milly McEvoy
Scotland have put the extra year from the Wheelchair Rugby League World Cup's postponement to good use, captain Michael Mellon revealed.
Time in training has created a strong bond between the 12-player squad, who also tested themselves in a warm-up match against Australia earlier in the week.
The Bravehearts start their World Cup against debutants USA before facing holders France and home nations rival Wales, in front of what will be bumper crowds for the wheelchair games.
“I’m super excited,” said Mellon. “There was a delay to the World Cup, of over a year, but that's actually helped us out.
“We've progressed a lot in that timeframe, the guys have been working really hard in the gym and there has been a lot of commitment from guys traveling all over the country to go to training sessions, and fight for spaces to be here.
“Normally, you would turn up to venues and there would be one person in the crowd clapping you on, or just family members so to see how large it is now is awesome.
“We have obviously got a great platform, we'll been live on the BBC, it's going to reach millions of people.
“That's going to be great for Scotland, even if it is just a couple of people that come to us from this, we can spread the word, increase our pool of players and grow the sport.”
Just one more sleep until the RLWC2021 wheelchair tournament kicks off!
Last night captains, coaches, media and RLWC2021 stakeholders joined together to officially launch the tournament ahead of the first game tomorrow.#RLWC2021 | @ESgloballaw pic.twitter.com/gHuXyigQHg
— Rugby League World Cup 2021 (@RLWC2021) November 2, 2022
It is an ethos echoed by head coach Mark Roughsedge, who is hoping to lift Scotland off bottom spot.
Back when it was a six-team tournament in 2013, the Bravehearts finished sixth on debut before ending in seventh in 2017 as they lost to Spain and Italy.
Roughsedge said: “Having that extra time has been really important to us and a bit of a gift for us, really.
“We're very much in a transition period, there have been lots of changes and hard work that has been going on in the background.
“We haven't won a game for a few years now but we're very confident that at some point, all the hard work and that change in our culture is going to produce some results on the field.
“Hopefully, for us, given the platform we're going to have in this World Cup, that win will be at this competition.
“But if not, we're very confident that at some point, that improved culture is going to turn into results.
“You'll definitely see a much-improved Scotland squad, we are on an upwards trajectory and with all the hype, attention and new eyeballs on the sport, it's about inspiring people to play the sport and growing the player pool across Scotland.”
The Rugby League World Cup promises to be the biggest, best and most inclusive event in the sport’s 127-year history with men’s, women’s and wheelchair teams competing in 61 games across 21 venues throughout England. Tickets are available via rlwc2021.com/tickets