Scotland head coach Bryan Easson is looking forward to pitting his wits against former All Blacks, England and Japan coach John Mitchell when England visit Hive Stadium on Saturday.  

Mitchell took over from Simon Middleton after working with Japan’s men’s team at the Rugby World Cup, while he was coach of the All Blacks from 2001 to 2003, and had two stints as an assistant coach with the England men’s team.  

Ahead of their first meeting in front of a sold-out Hive Stadium on Saturday, Easson said: “It shows a lot about the growth of the women’s game that you have got someone like John Mitchell involved.  

“He has been with the All Blacks, Japan and England men and I think he will shake England women up. 

England are unbeaten so far after thumping wins over Wales and Italy, and have conceded just 10 points in their opening two matches.  

Easson believes that is partly down to the impact Mitchell has made in his short time in charge.   

Scotland Rugby News: England Women head coach John MitchellEngland Women head coach John Mitchell (Image: PA)

He added: “England are playing a different style, you can see from the first two games they are trying to play a bit more, they have different shapes and different things going on in their team and you can see he is putting his stamp on it already,  

“It is good to see coaches of his ilk coming into the women’s game.” 

Anything but an England win at Hive Stadium would rank among the tournament’s greatest ever upsets, but Scotland go into the round three clash having run France, the world’s number three side, close last time out.  

Rather than worry about their opposition, the Scotland head coach insisted his side have been focusing on themselves.  

He said: "Preparation has been a lot of focus on us again but understanding how England are playing and preparing ourselves accordingly. 

 “I have been pretty clear with everybody we are not benchmarking ourselves against these teams yet, they are ahead in terms of professionalism, a long way ahead but we can benchmark performances and we learnt a lot from the France game. 

Scotland Rugby News: Zoe Aldcroft will captain the Red Roses against ScotlandZoe Aldcroft will captain the Red Roses against Scotland (Image: PA)

“The England game is another challenge, they are the best team in the world by quite a distance.” 

Easson also offered his opinion on Mitchell’s view that the development of female players could be aided by playing with a smaller ball.  

World Rugby is to analyse data collected from a trial in the recent Women’s Under-18 Six Nations festival, as well as from the training sessions of three Celtic Challenge teams. 

The current size 5 ball is the same as that used in the men’s game, while the trial tested the size 4.5 ball which is around three per cent smaller and up to four per cent lighter. 

Mitchell said: “If you’ve got younger girls wanting to come into the game and you have smaller communities that don’t have the ability to play 15s but could do a lot more in school yards with smaller balls, if that gives them confidence to play the game then I’m all for it.” 

Easson agreed it could be a tool to attract more young girls into the game.  

The Scotland coach said: “I think from a younger age it might be something we can start to build in. If it helps the development of the game from a younger age, it may be something to look at.” 

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When England visited Edinburgh two years ago, the match was played in front of 3,988 fans but this weekend that attendance will be almost doubled with 7,774 supporters set to pack out Hive Stadium. 

Tomorrow’s match forms part of a big weekend for women’s rugby, which begins in Edinburgh this evening with the screening of 90 Days, a play that documents the story of the 1994 Women’s Rugby World Cup, which was played in Scotland.  

Meanwhile, Saturday’s action will begin with the National Bowl final between Dalkeith and Marr on the back pitches at Murrayfield from 11.15am, with the winners presented the trophy at half-time of the international.  

Easson admitted it is an important weekend for women’s rugby in Scotland.  

He said: “Two years ago we played England and there was three-and-a-half [thousand]. 

“At that time we thought 'wow this is amazing, look at how the game is growing' but now it is a sell-out and I'm sure they could have sold a lot more as well.  

Scotland Rugby News: Scotland will play in front of a sold-out Hive Stadium against EnglandScotland will play in front of a sold-out Hive Stadium against England (Image: SNS)

“This group are role models and they are building something. We want to make sure we enjoy the crowd but we also put in a performance to make them proud.” 

The Scotland boss insisted the added attention on his players does not bring any extra pressure. 

“The eyes on the team are there because of their performances,” he said.  

“They are playing good rugby but they are also really competitive. That doesn't mean this result is going to be the same - we have to keep putting in performances.  

"I know from this group they want to keep pushing performances.”