Excitement Builds As Scotland 7S Enter World Cup Year

Head coach Stephen Gemmell is anticipating an exciting year ahead for the Scotland 7s team as they look toward the first IRB Sevens World Series event of the season in Dubai. The tournament will be the first at the new purpose built venue in Dubai 'The Sevens' - also the stage for the 2009 Rugby World Cup Sevens in March.

Head coach Stephen Gemmell is anticipating an exciting year ahead for the Scotland 7s team as they look toward the first IRB Sevens World Series event of the season in Dubai.

The tournament will be the first at the new purpose built venue in Dubai 'The Sevens' - also the stage for the 2009 Rugby World Cup Sevens in March.

The Scots have been drawn in Pool B against South Africa, Kenya and the Arabian Gulf, a draw which Gemmell is relishing.

"We need to get out of that group and, as always, we'll be setting high standards for ourselves," he said. _x001C_The advantage of our draw is that we know every team in our group. Only three teams won a tournament last year and South Africa were one of them, and everyone at our own tournament at Murrayfield saw our heartbreak when we lost to them with the last kick of the ball.

As for Kenya, well we played them three times last year and they beat us twice, but we learnt from those two defeats to win against them at Twickenham. Kenya have a group of fulltime sevens players who will have been targeting the first tournament in Dubai for some time. They've also played their Rugby World Cup Sevens qualifier so it's going to be a big challenge.

I think all the teams involved, not just ourselves, are excited about playing at the new venue, none moreso than our other opponents, the Arabian Gulf. They've already qualified for the World Cup Sevens as the host union so they'll also be looking to set out their stall ahead of the event.

However, what we've shown over the past two years is that if we get our game right, then we can beat these teams._x001D_

Gemmell is upbeat as he looks forward to an opportunity that comes around only once ever four years. However, despite the first IRB tournament being a chance to test out the new facilities ahead of the World Cup, Gemmell remains focussed on the task in hand.

It's an exciting time to be involved in the IRB Sevens World Series, especially with moving to a new purpose built venue in Dubai.

It's a great opportunity for us and all the other teams involved to familiarise ourselves with the new stadium, the new training grounds and the new hotels before the World Cup Sevens in March.

However, it's still an international tournament and we need to get our preparation right in order to perform._x001D_

That preparation will once again take Gemmell's training squad, under the guise of Scottish Thistles to the Singapore Sevens on Saturday 1 and Sunday 2 November.

We've got a squad of National Academy players in training right now which gives me the chance to look at some new guys coming through,_x001D_ he explained.

If they impress in training then they could be on their way to Singapore and if they put a marker down in Singapore then they could well be on their way to Dubai at the end of November._x001D_

Scotland 7s' Pool B fixtures at the Emirates Airline Dubai Sevens on 28 November 2008 (all times are local):
10:14am - South Africa v Scotland
3:32pm - Kenya v Scotland
5:44pm - Scotland v Arabian Gulf