Scotland 7s in Wellington – Review

The Scotland 7s were slightly overshadowed by the Calcutta Cup match on Saturday as they competed in the 5th round of the HSBC 7s World Series held in Wellington, New Zealand. However there, as closer to home, it was a case of more of the same from the Scots.

Scotland went into the tournament making 3 changes to the team that made it to the semi-finals of the plate in Las Vegas 2 weeks ago: Andrew Turnbull and Darren Gillespie replaced Scott Wight and Lee Jones respectively who had to travel back for Glasgow Warriors duties whilst Mark Robertson replaced John Houston who injured his hand in the previous competition.

Scotland started day 1 with a narrow loss to Canada (14-17). Tries came from James Johnstone and the ever reliable Andrew Turnbull with captain Colin Gregor converting both tries. Canada eventually went on to lose in the Plate final to Australia 10-12 but it was some lazy defence that cost the Scots with one of Canada’s tries coming from a little grubber kick to the young Harry Jones.

Scotland’s next opponents were Argentina and we saw another tight game with Scotland coming off worse, losing 12-17. The two tries came again from Turnbull and Gregor got one of the conversions.

Coming into the last match of day 1, Scotland knew that they were going to be confined to the Bowl competition for day 2, but it was now about trying to get the better draw. A day of tight games concluded with a 19-19 draw between the two sides. Turnbull added another two tries to his tally with Alex Glashan being the other player to cross the whitewash. However, it was still enough for Scotland to finish 3rd in their pool meaning that they advanced to the Bowl quarter-finals with the better draw.

Reflecting on day 1, head coach Stephen Gemmell said “We’re overwhelmed with feelings of disappointment. All week we spoke about the opportunity this group gave us to qualify for the Cup competition. However, we were too indecisive throughout the day and have ultimately ended up on the wrong side of three very close matches.”

Gemmell had talked about a strong improvement being required for the second day and that was what we saw. In the quarter-final, Scotland came up against Spain and the day’s try-fest started with Scotland winning 38-12. Tries came from a Mark Robertson hat-trick, 2 from Turnbull to take his tournament tally up to 7 and Colin Gregor, who also managed 4 conversions. This was a much improved performance from the Scots who showed determination in attack and were much stronger as a team in defence. This result meant that they moved into a tough semi-final with Wales.

However, Scotland’s surprise turnaround continued as they managed to score 4 unanswered tries to win 28-0 against a Welsh team who have had quite a successful season so far. 19 year old Glashan scored a hat-trick whilst Mark Robertson got the fourth try of the game.  Captain Gregor was successful with the boot landing all four conversions.

This set up a Bowl final rematch with Kenya who won 21-7 when the two sides met in the Bowl semi-final in Las Vegas two weeks ago. However, despite the strong performances earlier in the day, Scotland eventually lost 24-14 and finished runner-up. Darren Gillespie and Struan Dewar scored the two tries whilst Gregor converted both attempts at goal.

Scotland managed to go one step further than they had done in Las Vegas. After the final, Gemmell said “Our performances were better today and we played with more intent and accuracy. Against Kenya though some individual errors cost us and we let a 14-12 lead slip from our hands.”

“We have come away with seven points this weekend and there is a sense of improvement, but the tale of missed opportunities has continued and we are still not where we want to be operating.”

This was a much improved performance by the Scots, which also saw Andrew Turnbull score his 138th World Series try, whilst Colin Gregor became the 4rd highest points scorer of the season on 121 points. Scotland now lie 12th on the Series rankings on 30 points (Leaders New Zealand are on 99 points)

The draw was also made for the 6th round of the HSBC 7s World Series in Tokyo (22nd-23rd March). Scotland have been drawn in Pool D with Spain, Australia and England. Looking ahead to the tournament, Gemmell said “We’re looking forward to Tokyo and there is a genuine sense of optimism in the camp for this Pool. We have beaten Australia and Spain on the circuit this year and England are doing very well at the moment.”

“However, in order to progress in that group we will have to be consistent and play at the top of our game. If we can do that we will get results like we did against Spain and Wales today.”

With just 4 rounds left, Scotland are looming dangerously close to the relegation zone and will have to pick up some more points to guarantee their spot in next year’s World Series.

10 comments on “Scotland 7s in Wellington – Review

  1. Cammy on

    Is there a reason that people like Turnbull, despite being a regular at this level, have never been successfully folded into the 15’s game? I presume if he’s consistantly played then he has good hands, pace to burn and is a reasonably decent one on one tackler.

    I’m completely ignorant of our 7’s team in genreral so it would be interesting to know how many play in this then go onto becoming names in the full, senior game.

    In short, is it a route into full team rugby for developing youth and do other countries convert their players into full capped internationals?

  2. Dumbledore on

    I don’t really understand what the 7s is being used for? Development or to shunt players across to who are no longer doing it at a pro level. Turnbull has played 15s in past. From what I remember he did ok but is quite small and struggled defensively. The current 7s squad has too much dead wood in it. Turnbull and Gregor should be moved on, Houston, Gillies, Wight, robertson all guys who aren’t going to make it in the pro game now for Edin Glasgow. By all means find a club elsewhere and prove the SRU wrong but don’t take up a spot another player could use. The thing Scotland struggle with is that their “pace” men are actually very ordinary paced compared to the other nations flyers

    • Cammy on

      SO I’m right in thinking that this is less of a development opportunity and more of a dump for people that are on central contracts?

      I’m guessing that people like Lee Jones should be worried about being involved in the squad rather than being enthused?

      Winning an occassional Plate probably isn’t worth it is it? Unless the SRU value having the 7’s Tournament so much that they feel that have to keep a team in the series in order to justify retaining their host status.

  3. LP on

    7s has become a sport apart from the 15s game. I think that in most countries there is very little cross fertilization between the 7s and 15s sides at senior level. In view of that, I believe that Scotland is wasting time, effort and money with 7s; time, effort and money that should be going in to the full game.

  4. Angus on

    I could live with being shunted from club to Commonwealth and Olympic games appearances.

    Now there is a question – qualification for the Olympic 7s Top 4 sides at the end of the series go straight in then regional qualifiers with one from each region.

    So…… when do we become the Great Britain 7s side for qualification and when is a Coach announced?

  5. Moody Blue on

    Think it’s fair to say that the purpose of the 7s has changed. It was for a while, notionally at least, about development. But since Scotland got Commonwealth Games status it has looked more like they are trying to develop a specialist team that will represent us well there. Generally the guys who play 7s regularly never play for the 15s now – Colin Gregor, Andrew Turnbull, Mark Robertson, Scott Riddell, Colin Shaw.
    In previous years people like Richie Vernon, Ross Rennie, Roddy Grant, Chris Fusaro and Peter Horne have all spent at least one full season with the 7s team and have gone on to have good careers at 15s but whether it has actually accelerated their development is open to question.
    Of the present 7s squad Alex Glashan, Chris Dean, Neil Herron and the Young brothers, Lewis and Gregor, are the younger players who it might be seen to be having a developmental role for.

  6. Ruairidh Campbell on

    The problem Scotland have now is that a lot of the big 7s teams now have set 7s squads who will stick to this discipline for a lot of their career. Scotland are in the transitional period where it is a mix of the specialist team and the development players. Training for 7s is completely different for 15s and it would be much more useful if Scotland was to set up a better development program (just look at England) and leave the 7s team to continue to build and become a stronger team.

  7. John Ellis on

    Ruaridh tells it right, a whole different set of skills and conditioning are needed. A squad should be selected and then kept together to train and play. LP,Scotland invented sevens and if only for that fact alone we should ensure we keep a team in the IRB tournaments. My understanding on Qualification for the Olympics is that we need to have a team in the top four IRB rankings, so that’ll be England then and then a Great Britain Squad will be selected once again that’ll be England then. A couple of Welsh players might get in but at the moment no one will make it from Scotland unless politics come into the selection process.. Sevens is worthwhile and winning the occasional pPlate or Bowl is well preferable to a regular Wooden Spoon.

  8. Angus on

    The win in the Bowl final in Hong Kong is the most dominant performance I have seen from the Scotland 7s as they absolutely blew France away

    I know the boys were gutted to go down in a close one to Samoa that really should have gone their way and they came out all guns blazing on Sunday to win 3 in a row

    Not the Cup section of the playoffs but you couldn’t get any closer to it than this

  9. Kev on

    I agree with the specialist 7s players needing to be seperated from Rugby players now. It is becoming easier to move from 7s to rugby rather than the other way. Perhaps a seperate busines case and sponsors specific for the 7s is required.
    Mind you I thought James Eddie was brilliant and has been a great ambassador for all levels of our game

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