Some four years of hard work, of highs and of lows, have led to this weekend. Today (Friday 25 July) marks the eve of the rugby sevens tournament at the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games.
During the past 1,460 days, a full-time sevens programme has been implemented, beginning at the outset of season 2011-12, the abbreviated national team’s most successful head coach, Stephen Gemmell, was reinstated in January 2013 and the Emirates Airline Edinburgh Sevens Festival was transported along the M8 to Scotstoun Stadium, where the Emirates Airline Glasgow 7s has taken place for the past three years.
It was in the host city, only two months ago that Scotland 7s matched their best ever finish in a HSBC Sevens World Series event, finishing in fourth place.
Now, it is the belief of many that Gemmell has picked the best ever 12-man squad to pull-on Scotland’s short game jersey and that this is a squad who can make sevens history.
Scotland’s second most capped internationalist, Sean Lamont, who has 88 full caps for his country; a British and Irish Lion, Stuart Hogg; one of the nation’s most promising young players who has scored seven tries in just two World Series events, Mark Bennett; a two times Melrose Sevens champion, who most recently lifted the Ladies Cup this year as captain with Glasgow Warriors at his home club, Scott Wight; a Scotland cap who was instrumental, with a try v South Africa back in May at the Glasgow 7s to take Scotland to their third ever circuit semi-final, Richie Vernon; a man who played almost every minute of the 2013-14 World Series and the only player to be selected for all nine events, Scott Riddell; Colin Gregor, who has been capped 50 times for the abbreviated national team and who is their top points scorer of all-time with 1138; Roddy Grant, who lifted the Plate trophy at the Edinburgh 7s in 2010; One of Scotland’s most talented sevens specialists, from Selkirk and capped by Scotland, Lee Jones; James Eddie, a key playmaker in Glasgow in May with his brutal physicality and always a fans’ favourite with his club, Glasgow Warriors; Colin Shaw, who has a previous Commonwealth Games, two Rugby World Cup Sevens and 33 World Series tournaments under his belt and last, but not least, one of the abbreviated national team’s most potent finishers, James Johnstone, who has scored 22 tries in 18 tournaments, now all wait to take the turf at Ibrox tomorrow (Saturday 26 July).
Gregor said: “We’re ready! We’ve had a really productive couple of weeks up in Stirling and moving into the Village has brought the sense of occasion home.
“This week we’ve had a good balance of training and time to relax, which has stood us in good stead for tomorrow.
Medalling at this Games is the be all and end all of for us. This squad is here to win and it will take all 12 players playing to the best of their ability to do that.”
Gemmell said: “We’re in a good place and preparations have been excellent. Day one at the Games was a wonderful day for Team Scotland and we hope to contribute to that and the ongoing success over the weekend.
“This is the best Scotland team I have ever worked with, but we’re under no illusions the challenge that awaits us, first-up tomorrow. We will take on New Zealand who won the World Series this year and who won gold in Delhi four years ago.
However, this is a special and unique opportunity for us and we’re focussed on getting our part right. Scotland’s judo and swimming athletes have shown what can be achieved if you perform at the top level and that for me is a key message for our players.
“Wednesday night’s opening ceremony and the next two days will live with us all for a very long time, so all that is left to do is deliver over the weekend.”
Scotland 7s will commence their Commonwealth Games campaign against four times gold medallists New Zealand at 1.56pm tomorrow afternoon, before facing Barbados at 6.02pm and then Canada at 9.04pm.
In order to keep their medal hopes alive on Sunday (27 July) they will be required to win at least two matches to secure their place in the Cup competition. Scotland’s crossover pool for day two is Pool B that includes South Africa, Kenya, Cook Islands and Trinidad and Tobago.
Scotland 7s squad to compete as part of Team Scotland, during Glasgow 2014, on Saturday 26 and Sunday 27 July at Ibrox Stadium: Richie Vernon, James Eddie (both Glasgow Warriors), James Johnstone (Scotland 7s), Roddy Grant (Edinburgh Rugby), Scott Riddell, Colin Shaw (both Scotland 7s), Lee Jones (Glasgow Warriors), Colin Gregor, Scott Wight (both Scotland 7s), Mark Bennett, Sean Lamont and Stuart Hogg (all Glasgow Warriors).
Glasgow 2014 rugby sevens pools