SCOTTISH RUGBY: Scotland 7s kick-off Year of Sevens
Pictured: Scott Wight, Stephen Gemmell (Scotland 7s Head Coach), Russell Weir, Shona Robison (Minister for Sport and Commonwealth Games), Ben Chalmers (Melrose Rugby Club) and Charles Swann (formerly Merchiston Castle School) launch A Year of Sevens.
The 12-man Scotland 7s squad who travel to Las Vegas on Saturday for the fourth leg of the HSBC Sevens World Series were given a high-profile send-off, today, ahead of the biggest year of their careers.
Minister for Sport and Commonwealth Games, Shona Robison was on hand to mark the start of a year which will see a home Commonwealth Games in July (26-27 July) as well as a third Emirates Airline Glasgow 7s (3-4 May) and a 131st anniversary of the Melrose 7s (12 April), no wonder 2014 is being tagged as ‘A Year of Sevens’.
Today, influential coaches and youth players from each player’s former club, as well as the Government Minister were invited to Murrayfield to join the players and head coach, Stephen Gemmell, to wish them good luck.
Gemmell said: “This is the biggest year of our careers, so we want to make it as special as possible for the players.
“With the legacy element associated with the Commonwealth Games we thought it would be appropriate to invite the people that were influential in the development of these players to this event and show our gratitude for their dedication.
“Every stage of 2014 is extremely important, we have six more World Series events, including our own tournament in Scotstoun in May, our players returning from injury may play in the Kings of the Sevens circuit and Legacy Sevens Series in order to gain game time and we will finish the year with a home Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.
“We can’t wait to see how the year unfolds and we’re hoping in all these events we can make our nation proud.”
With these high profile events on the horizon, the ‘Year of Sevens’ is being seen as a golden opportunity to increase and widen participation in rugby sevens as well as raise the sport’s profile. The lasting legacy of 2014 is expected to benefit rugby sevens for years to come and provide a platform for future growth.
The Minister said: “This year marks a significant opportunity to promote rugby sevens and reinforce Scotland’s place in the development of the game. The IRB Sevens World Series and the Glasgow 7s at Scotstoun together with the Commonwealth Games will leave a legacy for players, coaches and clubs across the country inspiring them to take rugby sevens forward.
“I wish Stevie [Gemmell], [captain] Colin Gregor and the rest of the squad every bit of luck for the next leg of the IRB Sevens World Series in Las Vegas. I look forward to watching them in person when they return to Scotland, the home of rugby sevens, this summer.”
Gemmell also confirmed that one potential new cap will travel with his 12-man squad for the Las Vegas event (24-26 January).
Glasgow Warriors’ stand-off, Scott Wight will make his first trip with the side and will also be joined by club team-mate, Finlay Gillies, who could add to his two international sevens caps.
Also, returning from injury and making his first outing since Hong Kong last year is talented playmaker Russell Weir , while forward Struan Dewar comes back in for his 20th cap having missed the second and third leg of the World Series through injury.
Gemmell continued: “We’re pleased to bring three XV-a-side professionals into our squad for Las Vegas, including Scott Wight for the first time.
“Scott is from Melrose, the home of rugby sevens, and was mightily influential in the Melrose team that won the Ladies Cup in 2011, so we’re excited to see what a player with his knowledge can offer on the world stage.
“We’re also delighted to welcome back Russell [Weir], who is an exciting young player full of potential. This will be his first outing since March last year.
“Training has gone well over the festive period with good intensity. We have once again replicated tournament days with matches against Glasgow and Edinburgh Elite Development Players. We’re now looking forward to getting back into competitive action.”
Scotland 7s’ group matches, though over two days, will all land on Saturday 25 January, for a UK audience, with the time difference considered. They will play Fiji at 1.06am, followed by New Zealand at 3.40am and then Australia at 8.22pm (all UK time).
Gemmell concluded: “As an Ayrshire man, I know Burns’ Day means a lot to Scots the world over and this will not be lost on all our squad in Las Vegas.”
Scotland 7s squad to compete in the Las Vegas 7s (24-26 January): Scott Riddell, Finlay Gillies (Glasgow Warriors), Struan Dewar, Alex Glashan, Colin Gregor (captain), John Houston, Lee Jones (Edinburgh Rugby), Michael Maltman, Russell Weir, Scott Wight (Glasgow Warriors), James Johnstone and Gregor Young.