Gaffney and Smith on trials for summer Games

Both Scotland’s professional sides are taking a break from league action this weekend however their respective grounds will be home, over two evenings, to under-19 women sevens players trialling for this summer’s School Games.

The Games, which are being held at Loughborough University in September, have seen Scottish Rugby submit a squad for the previous three years. As last time out, the squad will be coached by seasoned Scotland Women internationals Megan Gaffney and Lindsey Smith.
Recalling last year’s tournament head coach Gaffney said: “It was really good fun and a good challenge to compare ourselves with teams at a similar age group from other countries.”

A number of the players involved in Manchester in 2015 - Kirsty Reid, Louise McMillan, Erin Watson and Nicola Howat graduated to the Scotland Women under-20 squad while Lisa Thomson [main pic] has been making her mark in the full Scotland Women side this season. Both Lisa and Louise are also currently members of the BT Sport Scottish Rugby Academy.

The trials for this year’s Games are taking place tomorrow (Thursday 21 April) at BT Murrayfield (6pm to 8pm) and on Friday (22 April) at Scotstoun Stadium (6pm to 8pm). The coaches explained how players, who have been invited to take part through the network of development officers, would be put through their paces on the nights.

Smith said: “The players will come in for a two-hour session, we’ll do some skills then watch them play some games so they have a chance to show us what they can do.

Gaffney added: “We want to see what they can do, naturally, then we can teach them more specifically about sevens.

“Overall we have more training sessions than we did last year, which is good. We have two weekend camps and a few more individual days. We’re planning to follow up the trials with a training day where everybody who’s been at the regional trials comes together and we’ll make our selection.”

From that larger training squad the coaches will then make their final selection come the cut-off date to enter the team, the first weekend in July.

Of their continuing coaching journey Smith said: “We’ve learnt to adapt, as coaches, since we first coached the squad last year. When we started out we assumed all the players would know more than they did about sevens, so this year we’re anticipating possibly having to do more basic skills work with some players.

Gaffney said: “ I’ve got more confidence this year after the experience last summer. We posted some decent results so we must have done something right!”

About the Games

The 2016 School Games is a multi-sport event for the UK's elite young athletes of school age.

The event aims to create an inspirational and motivational setting that not only provides elite young sports people with the opportunity to thrive and perform at the highest levels, but encourages more young people to take part and succeed in sport. Twelve sports are represented, involving around 1600  young athletes.

Athletes compete in: Athletics, Cycling, Fencing, Gymnastics, Hockey, Judo, Rugby 7s, Swimming, Table Tennis, Volleyball, Wheelchair Basketball, Wheelchair Tennis.
The Games have been a launchpad for many elite athletes. At the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, 150 of the competitors previously took part in the School Games.

This year the event is being held from 1-4 September at Loughborough University.

Written by
Isobel Irvine