Excitement is building for two teams of youngsters in Glasgow and Dundee who will take centre stage in front of more than 40,000 Commonwealth Games spectators this weekend.
The under-18 sevens squads of the High School of Dundee and GHA will play a curtain-raiser to the medals session in the rugby 7s at Ibrox Stadium, Glasgow on Sunday night.
They qualified for this “fantastic showcase” from the Scottish Rugby/Daily Record Festival of Rugby – which was an integral part of the Emirates Airline Glasgow 7s at Scotstoun back in May.
Ewan Jack, coach of the Dundee side who won 12-5 when the teams contested the Scotstoun final, said: “When we entered the Festival of Rugby we always hoped that the outcome would be that the boys could play in this curtain-raiser to the finals at Ibrox. That was always a big carrot for the boys.
“A number of them have been inter-railing around Europe during the school holidays but they’ve assured me they’ve kept up with their training.”
Jack explained that two of the school’s hockey coaches, Vikki Bunce and Becky Ward, are members of Team Scotland, in the women’s hockey squad, while three former pupils Richie Vernon, Ailsa Robertson and Eilish McColgan are also competing in rugby, hockey and athletics respectively.
“I’m not sure if the boys realise what they are going to face on Sunday,” he added. “They’ve done really well in the past year, winning a number of sevens tournaments, playing at BT Murrayfield in the Brewin Dolphin Scottish Schools Final and Scotstoun in the Festival of Rugby final but Ibrox and the finals night of the Commonwealth Games 7s is going to be stepping it up a notch.”
GHA’s coach, Paul Tyler, who is the Academy manager at Braidholm, will have an early chance to sample the Ibrox Games atmosphere as he is involved in the Games as a volunteer.
“I’m doing team liaison with Barbados (who are in Scotland’s pool) and they’re a great bunch and pretty ambitious,” he explained.
His squad had little sevens experience at the start of the 2013-14 season but the incentive of sevens tournaments and involvement in the Commonwealth Games has made quite an impact.
“We played in six under-18s tournaments in the past season and we’ve already accepted invites back to all of them for the next year. The Festival of Rugby was a brilliant experience and to be at Ibrox during the finale of the Commonwealth Games 7s is a fantastic showcase for the best of youth rugby at this level.
“This coming season, for the first time, we will run an under-20s (XV-a-side) team and a lot of the drive behind that has come from the enjoyment the boys have had playing together in both the XVs and sevens arena.
“In terms of legacy, it would be fair to say that we’re already seeing what an affect the Commonwealth Games rugby sevens programme is having. What we’re involved in at GHA is a model for retention and recruitment and will certainly help to grow the game.”
The match between the High School of Dundee and GHA will kick-off at 7.24pm on Sunday before the finals matches in the Commonwealth Games rugby sevens programme.
Tickets are still available for two sessions of the Commonwealth Games sevens programme , the evening session on Saturday 26 and the morning/mid-afternoon session on Sunday 27 July. You can buy them by logging on to www.glasgow2014.com