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Scotland win silver at Paris Sevens

Joseva Nayacavou
Joseva Nayacavou in action for Scotland Sevens - pic © Stewart G Johnstone Photography

Scotland finished second in a strong showing at the Paris Sevens over the weekend. They lost in the final to South Africa who were also crowned World Sevens Series champions at the Stade Jean Bouin.

The Scots started the tournament with an upset against the eventual winners, and went on to record further wins against Canada and Japan on Day One to top their pool for the second time this season. With a strong start to the tour last year and what looks like a strong finish ahead of the finale at Twickenham next weekend, Scotland just need to arrest their mid-season slumps and they could be truly competitive at the top of the league table – currently, they lie in 7th, having been in the top 4 during the opening weeks.

It’s unclear what the reason is – whether it is injuries kicking in, playing conditions or just tricky draws, it will be something for John Dalziel to get stuck into when he takes over next season.

There is no doubt that on their day they can beat anyone, in this case knocking off the 1st, 2nd and 3rd ranked teams on their way to the final with a mixture of wholehearted scramble defence and some electric footwork from rejuvenated players like Mark Robertson or the young tyro George Horne.

Horne was probably player of the tournament and although his stature sometimes caused him trouble in defence, his eye for a gap and ability to get through it at some speed created many memorable tries. There is probably a place for him in the Sevens squad permanently should he choose that route – I am sure Glasgow Warriors fans hoping to see him in black next season would disagree!

The return of captain Scott Riddell shows that he is arguably the heartbeat of the side and they seem to play so much better when he is in the squad but they have a core of playmakers in Riddell and Wight that will be hard to replace when the time comes. Also worth a mention is Hugh Blake, who looks a different player to the one pitched up at Glasgow amidst talk of Project players. He could turn out to be a centre after all…

Calum MacRae has them playing a determined and patient style of Sevens that is hard to break down and hard to stop scoring now that they can keep the ball and if you have an off day like Fiji did at the start of day 2 then you could come off looking silly. Scotland ran out winners 24-0 before a much closer semi against England edged them into the final to face the Blitzbokke once again.

Their skillset under MacRae has massively improved and they look like the keystone cops far less regularly than they used to. Competitiveness is the new norm but unfortunately, the errors crept into the final from both teams and the Blitzbokke were better positioned to capitalise. Scotland couldn’t get their lineout working at all and so plentiful chances went by without points being scored. Horne blotted his copybook with a yellow card. It wasn’t a nightmare game by Scotland but the Blitzbokke have been imperious for most of the season – they were in something like their ninth Cup final – and needed few excuses to take the win away from the Scots.

As MacRae moves to Edinburgh with an impressive legacy in place, for his swansong Scotland have been drawn in Pool B against France, Argentina and Russia as they look to defend the title they won at Twickenham last year.

24 Responses

  1. Well done Scotland 7s! Highlights we’re mightily impressive. To think, they were nearly disbanded by the SRU – now looking like a really professional outfit and a joy to watch.

    1. Young Horne is seriously quick. Just a pity we didn’t beat England 62-21 in the semi! Great to watch. Well done, you Sevens boys.

  2. And rightly awarded a place in the official ‘dream team’ along with Mark Robertson and Jamie Farndale.

    I watched Horne quite a bit when he was at LS and there’s no doubt he’s a real handful. ??

  3. We got a bit lucky in the England game. The non try for Norton looked a stick on to me. Apart from that it was a really good weekend. So composed in possession.

  4. Why to they kick penalties to touch? Possession is everything in 7s and line outs can be risky.

    1. Kicking to touch was part of strategy that won 5 out of 5.
      Didn’t go adrift till last lineout in England semi.
      Keeping possession for more than 3 minutes in 2nd half of England match, even without scoring was immense

  5. It was great to watch the progress of the squad over the weekend, knocking out the results in such a stylish manner. The ball retention is something to watch, and the way that the team seek to put width on the ball, stretching their opponents and using the space that 7s allows is a real treat. Compare this to the Canadian tactics, which are akin to a shortened version of Warrenball. The commentators were purring every time Scotland played!

    The Fiji result was astonishing. It wasn’t just scraping by, they took them to pieces.

    Got to say that George Horne is a pleasure to watch. He seems to be thriving in this environment. Also have to mention Mark Robertson – he will be missed when he retires this weekend. He has great feet, and plays with the top 2 inches engaged all the time.

    Good luck in London boys!

    1. Echo this. It was excellent. First saw George Horne playing for LS. He is electric!!

      Hope we get our heads together for Twickers – not a tough group, but need to be focussed right from the off.

      1. On paper it doesn’t look too bad a group, but Russia and Argentina both made it to finals last week, and France​ always have moments. But I agree – focus is required, get out of the group and then fear no one on day 2.

        The squad can’t catch Australia in sixth, but a strong showing would secure 7th, which I think would match the best ever?

  6. Usual slow start, did just enough though. Need to step up a gear in the next two games.

  7. Wow! 21-0 down at half time. Amazing comeback to win 22-21!

    This is Scottish rugby history, folks. Scotland has NEVER, in the 140+ years of our rugby history, beaten New Zealand in ANY form of the game at any level. This is a huge first for us. Well done, lads!!

    1. Callum Macrae really has done an incredible job with the Scotland squad. Under him they are regularly punching well above their weight. Let’s hope he has a similar impact at Edinburgh.

    1. Getting ready to scour the streets of Edinburgh to find a pub with Sky that will show the final!

  8. I just heard Billy vunipola replaced by haskell for lions…. why the F*ck has watson not been called up if ur picking a flanker … what more does he have to do.

    1. Because Vunipola is a number eight so Gatland will now have Faletau and Stander as his two eights and has called up Haskell to replace Stander at six. Watson is not a six or an eight. The correct question to ask is were Barclay or Heaslip considered ahead of Haskell and if not, why not? Haskell is …er…limited to say the least.

      1. Would have picked heaslip myself…barclay not an eight either. In any case hoping we get to see Watson/Hardie vs Hooper/McMahon..should be epic at 7…

  9. Haskell for BV is unsurprising given the style Gatland has decided is the one to beat NZ.
    It will be a game based on physicality & athleticism, dominate the game up front & victory will come.
    I can see Hogg not getting a game in the test matches – with Gatland’s blinkered opinion – Halfpenny playing all 3 (because of his supposed superior defence).

    Tries will have to be scored to beat NZ, is this squad chosen to score tries or to physically dominate?

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