Scotland head coach Claire Cruikshank praised her side’s warrior spirit after a challenging 69-10 defeat to France in the Women’s Summer Series in Parma.  

Cruikshank’s side were ravaged by injury from outset, losing two forwards inside the opening two minutes and playing the final half hour with 14 women after both tighthead props had limped off.

Despite a second successive defeat at Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi, boss Cruikshank focused on the positives after her side refused to lie down in difficult circumstances against free-scoring France.

“Everyone is disappointed. They’re competitive and they want to win international rugby but we were up against one of the best under-20 teams in the world and we’ve been competitive, maybe the scoreline doesn’t reflect that and the second half ran away from us but we’re really proud of the effort and there’s loads building into that Ireland game on Sunday,” said Cruikshank.

“It’s tough and then we went down to 14 at the end of the second half but I guess that’s the Scottish warrior, it’s a bit of battle, we fight for everything and I’m so proud of how the players adapted to those changes early on and people playing in different position to make sure we got to the end of the game.

“I’m extremely proud of every ounce they put into that game.”

Scotland got off to the worst possible start, losing prop Chloe Brown and second row Ellie Williamson to injury in the first passage of the game before Molly Poolman exited a short while later.

Holland Bogan was one of those thrust into action earlier than expected and revealed it was new territory to be entering the game so early as a replacement.

“I was definitely shocked,” she said. “I wasn’t expecting it but I had to switch the mindset and had to get myself fired up.

“I think it was maybe 40 or 50 minutes too early but I’m happy I got the shot and was able to come on.”

Scotland recovered to claim a surprise early lead through flanker Gemma Bell to threaten a big upset.

But France soon found their rhythm and scored 11 tries through 11 different scorers to extend their unbeaten start to the Summer Series.

“We were really pleased with the start, we knew if we could come out firing and look after the ball, we could pose some problems,” said Cruikshank.

“After the first couple of minutes we started to believe and that was a key time for us, so we’re super proud of what we did in those 20 minutes and throughout the whole game.

“We were confident going in that we could compete with France in certain areas and the girls believed that and they did that in the first half, we put them under a lot of pressure.

“We were pleased with how the game went overall, scoreline aside.

“It was always going to be tough to come back from injuries in the first few minutes.”

The Women’s Summer Series is available to fans all over the world via exclusive coverage on the Six Nations U20 YouTube channels, with supporting coverage across dedicated U20 Six Nations social media channels.