Scotland 7s coach, Stephen Gemmell, today spoke of the challenge his side faces in order to turn around their fortunes ahead of the Emirates Airline South Africa Sevens this weekend. In preparation for the tournament, which kicks-off tomorrow, Gemmell wasted no time in starting the rebuilding process. "We didn't hang around at the stadium on Saturday for the formalities. It was straight back to the hotel to start the review process where there were plenty questions from the players and myself on what we can do to help each other.”
“There’s been a lot of talking and a lot of action so far this week. We identified two or three key things we wanted to work on this week and we began training again with two hard sessions early in the week to engage the players in the kind of intensity they’ll face this weekend."
The largely inexperienced Scotland squad, with a new captain in Roddy Grant following the injury of Scott Forrest, have tried to put their finger on what happened last weekend, but Gemmell believes that experience is key to consistency on the World Series.
“A number of these guys have never been in this situation before - being on the Series is new to most of them. Last year, we had the bones of a very good team, and everyone new who came in just had to concentrate on their own performance to keep us in the top eight. However, this year, everyone’s had to understand not only our shape and what we’re trying to do, but handle the pressure that comes with wearing a Scotland 7s jersey.”
Despite the disappointment of the final results, Gemmell is quick to remind his players that the day one results were on par with their seeding, it’s the day two performances that require improvement.
“We were seeded third in our pool in Dubai and the results went the way of the rankings. Our disappointment came on day two when we just didn’t front up to teams seeded below us.”
Turning around the squad’s fortunes has been a delicate task with such a young group of players, so a tough approach on the training pitch has been coupled with a more positive approach off it.
“My job this week has also been to help try and control how the players deal with the pressure we’re under right now.”
Looking ahead to this weekend, the Scots face Fiji, Argentina and Zimbabwe on day one, however, the focus remains on continuing to improve as a group, not concentrating on their opponents - especially with the Rugby World Cup Sevens in Dubai on the horizon.
“This weekend, it doesn’t get any easier. I spoke to Waisale Serevi and Fiji are looking to up their performance from Dubai so they’re going to be a massive challenge. Zimbabwe beat us fair and square so it’s just up to us to learn from the mistakes we made and turn the result around. More importantly, we need to focus on performance. That’s what matters this weekend. The players owe it to themselves and each other.
“The World Cup is a priority this season and the players are lucky to have another chance this weekend to put their hands up and prove to me that they deserve a World Cup jersey.”
Scotland 7s: Pool C fixtures on day one (Friday 5 December) of the Emirates Airline South Africa Sevens:
11:37am - Fiji v Scotland
3:05 - Argentina v Scotland
5:49 - Scotland v Zimbabwe
All times are local time, George (South Africa) is two hours ahead of GMT.
Scotland 7s squad for the Emirates Airline South Africa Sevens on 5 & 6 December:
Roddy Grant (West of Scotland)* CAPTAIN, Struan Dewar (Heriots)**, Colin Shaw (Glasgow Warriors), Fraser McKenzie (Edinburgh Rugby), Chris Fusaro (Heriot’s)*, Ashleah McCulloch (Aberdeen Grammar Rugby)**, Jamie Hunter (West of Scotland)*, Rory Hutton (Hawick)*, Andrew Easson (Edinburgh Rugby), Graham Hogg (Hawick)*, Grant Anderson (Ayr)*, Chris Kinloch (Glasgow Warriors)
* = Member of Scottish Rugby’s National Academy
** = Member of Scottish Rugby’s Area Institute Supported National Academy
The Emirates Airline Edinburgh 7s is the eighth and final leg of the IRB Sevens World Series. It will be held at Murrayfield on 30 and 31 May 2009.
Tickets sales information will be announced shortly - log on to www.edinburgh7s.com for more information.
Rugby sevens will be one of the showpiece events of the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.