SCOTLAND’S women’s rugby team are now just one step away from reaching a first Rugby World Cup in more than a decade.

Scotland were due to travel to the United Arab Emirates next month as one of four countries battling it out for a space in the competition.

Originally, Scotland were due to face Colombia, while Samoa played the winner of Hong Kong versus Kazakhstan.

However, World Rugby and the Hong Kong and Samoa unions confirmed on Friday that the two countries would not participate.

It means Hong Kong will no longer face Kazakhstan for a spot at the final qualification tournament.

Instead, Kazakhstan will play Colombia on February 19, with the winner then facing Scotland six days later.

East Lothian’s Megan Gaffney, Annabel Sergeant and Liz Musgrove will all be hoping to help Scotland reach the Rugby World Cup for the first time since 2010, with the squad due to be announced this week.

Sir Bill Beaumont, World Rugby chairman, said: “Our thoughts go out to the players and management who have worked tirelessly in preparation for this tournament and we would like to reassure them that every avenue was explored in attempting to find a solution to this unique and challenging situation.

“In collaboration with both Samoa and Hong Kong rugby unions, taking the appropriate measures that mitigate the spread of Covid-19 in line with the relevant authorities is paramount and has underpinned our decision-making throughout the pandemic.”