Olympic dream spurs Farndale on

Olympic dream spurs Farndale on

Scotland 7s welcomed a familiar face back into their fold recently, as Jamie Farndale was named in the squad for HSBC World Sevens series legs in Los Angeles and Vancouver.

Scotland 7s welcomed a familiar face back into their fold recently, as Jamie Farndale was named in the squad for HSBC World Sevens series legs in Los Angeles and Vancouver.

The 41-tournament Farndale had been ever-present in the Scotland team since making his debut in the London leg of the 2014/15 campaign, scoring 104 tries in the process.

His streak of appearances was halted for this season following involvement with Edinburgh Rugby, with whom he signed a professional deal last month.

However, with Olympic selection a possibility for a number of Scotland stars ahead of the games in Tokyo this summer, the 25-year-old joined up with his teammates in an attempt to impress Team GB Head Coach Simon Amor.

“Four years ago I felt like I had a good shot at going [to Rio de Janeiro, where the games were held], but an injury in the first trial tournament seemed to put an end to those hopes”, Farndale explained.

“The doctors thought it would be an eight-week recovery, but I opted to stay with the squad and try to rehab as quickly as I could. I got back in four weeks to play in the final tournament before selection and managed to play pretty well.

“In the end, there was such a high standard of competition and I had missed so much of the camp that I didn’t make it, but it was a funny experience to have my hopes dashed by the initial injury, then slowly build back up again into a faint hope and then to finally not make it.

Far flung: Jamie returned to Scotland 7s duty out in Los Angeles. Credits: Brian Jackson Photography 

“Having felt so close, it’s all I’ve thought about since, and while I’ve taken my rugby tournament by tournament, the end goal has always been to get myself into a position to be considered for selection.”

In order to catch Amor’s eye, Farndale knows every match could make a difference during his time with the Scotland 7s squad – a group he is thrilled to be back in amongst, adding: “It’s been just as tough as I remember it being! I don’t think anything in rugby comes close to being as tough as a six-game 7s tournament weekend.

“The boys have been great and helped me find my feet again, taking the time to talk me through the technical and tactical points that Ciaran [Beattie, Head Coach] has brought in, and their learnings from the first few tournaments.

“Playing together over the years has brought us very close together, and it feels great to be back with them and out on the pitch together.”

Farndale reckons being in camp with Edinburgh allowed him to adjust to life on the circuit again, some nine months since last taking to the field in the abbreviated format. He said: “I’ve felt pretty good on the fitness front. Any ideas of being eased back in were put to a pretty abrupt end by the number of injuries we had in Los Angeles and I ended up playing quite a bit through the weekend!

“Having that 7s experience definitely helped; my body remembered how it feels and I was able to push myself though. I’ve also been kept fit at Edinburgh, there is no shortage of hard work put in there, so I felt in a good place coming back into the sevens team.”

As a keen onlooker during the season prior to Los Angeles, the former Edinburgh Academy pupil says the current squad is youthful but harbours great potential: “Success in 7s is so closely linked to experience and while it’s a young group, it’s one that is slowly and surely turning into an experienced squad.

“There was a big drop off a few years ago, when JD [John Dalziel] took over, and he brought in a lot of the current group. There is now a core that have worked together over the past few years. A sevens weekend hits you hard. Being able to deal with the physical stresses as well as the emotional stresses comes with having been through it all before.

“It’s going through some of the lowest points together that actually pulls a team together and gives that extra push when it is needed to make it at the top level of the competition. There are a lot of talented players in this current team, and with a growing understanding of the game and of how to deal with tournament stresses and be able to perform at your best, success is not too far away.”

Having worked under the auspices of the aforementioned Dalziel, and Calum MacRae before that, Farndale says he has enjoyed the approach and methods of the incumbent Beattie: “Beatso has been great. He’s massively positive, which is needed in the 7s.

“In dealing with the inevitable ups and downs, his enthusiasm really pulls us though. He’s very intelligent and has brought his own ideas in about our game plan, which the boys have completely bought into. He knows the game inside out and is great at dealing with players and getting the best out of individuals. he made it very easy for me, with only a short build up with the team before LA, to go in feeling prepared and ready to play.”

With Scotland set to face USA, Australia and Samoa this weekend, any eye-catching performances could lead to Olympic recognition. For Jamie Farndale, it’s an opportunity he’s been waiting nearly four years for.

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