Scotland qualified for next year’s Rugby World Cup 7s but talk about doing it the hard way! It was mission accomplished at the tournament in the Algarve tonight courtesy of a 22-14 win in the plate final against Italy.
Earlier in the day, Scotland had lost 14-26 in the Cup quarter-final to France and that meant they were supping at the last chance saloon. But a convincing plate semi-final victory against Germany (33-0) teed them up for the Azzurri and Scotland did not disappoint as they recorded a 22-14 success.
So, the five RWC 7s qualifiers from the tournament in Portugal were Georgia, Portugal, France, Spain... and Scotland. The hosts went on to win the Cup with a 7-5 win against Spain.
Stephen Gemmell, Scottish Rugby’s Head of Performance Development, said: “We came here to do a job and that was to qualify a side for next year’s Rugby World Cup 7s in Moscow. We are disappointed that we lost to Spain (yesterday) and France but for the players to complete the job in six games said much for this group.
We’ll do a thorough debrief as usual now it’s the end of the sevens season but the bottom line at the moment is that we have qualified and nobody is going to worry about how that was achieved come next June in Moscow.
James Fleming, product of Perthshire and Dundee HSFP, scored six tries over the course of today and his exhilarating pace is an asset that many countries covet.
The Cup quarter-final loss to France had seen Scotland start with Michael Fedo, Fraser Brown and Colin Shaw; Colin Gregor, Struan Dewar, Byron McGuigan and Andrew Turnbull. Fedo got Scotland’s lone first-half try in that encounter and Fleming, introduced as a substitute, roared in for the second, but to no avail. Captain Gregor landed two conversions.
A short turnaround of around one hour and the players took to the field again for the lifeline clash against Germany.
Scotland made two changes to their starting line-up: Michael Maltman began instead of Brown (slight groin injury) and Fleming started instead of Turnbull. Scotland led 14-0 at the break against the Germans and were not troubled in spite of losing Dewar to the sin-bin. Their points in this tie came from tries by Gregor, Fleming (3) and sub Rory Hughes. Gregor goaled three conversions and sub Russell Weir, one.
In the plate final, and with only ten players available as Jim Thompson (slight hamstring injury) was also sidelined, Scotland started with the same seven as in the plate semi. Again they lost Dewar to a yellow card but tries from Fleming (2), Fedo and Shaw, Gregor adding one conversion, always ensured daylight between the teams, Italy striking back with a converted try in each half.
On Friday's opening day, Scotland defeated the Netherlands and Romania before losing to Spain.