Incoming head coach John Dalziel has stamped his authority on the national side’s Sevens team, naming his core squad for the 2017/18 series.
Led again by the highly experienced Scott Riddell, all but two of the 14 man squad have participated in the World Series in the past with seven remaining from the side that won back to back titles in London in May.
The squad features three players (James Johnstone, Jamie Farndale and Dougie Fife) who have been training with Edinburgh Rugby recently, the latter of whom appeared in the Pro14 early on, driving speculation Richard Cockerill may have looked to retain him as a pro XVs player – Cockerill even said as much but it seems like he’s been overruled.
Another exciting addition to the squad is Robbie Fergusson, the 13-times-capped Scotland U20s player who recently excelled down at London Scottish. With such a high calibre of centres emerging in Scottish rugby, the Sevens World Series offers a superb opportunity for Fergusson to demonstrate his talent at a higher level.
The home of rugby sevens, Melrose, meanwhile remains well represented with Dalziel as head coach and current club players Nyle Godsmark and Sam Pecqueur included on a part-time basis. Along with Currie’s Harvey Elms, the three will be available for all sevens competitions, although may still return to their respective clubs when not required in the national setup.
Despite the loss of the hugely influential Mark Robertson and Scott Wight to retirement at the end of last season, the squad boasts a helpful cohort of experienced players, including full XVs internationalists in Jack Cuthbert and Hugh Blake. With 46 World Series appearances to his name, James Johnstone will look to push on after a year plagued by injury last season.
As well as the World Series, July 2018 sees San Francisco host the Sevens Rugby World Cup. The extended season, therefore, has seen the naming of a strong core of 14 players with more likely to be invited to train if and when injuries occur.
Key for Dalziel’s men will be finding consistency this season. Victories against the likes of New Zealand and Fiji last season demonstrated the squad’s ability to compete at the top against the very best. However, the team’s inability to consistently reach Cup Quarter Finals on a regular basis instead limited the side’s hopes of getting anywhere close to competing at the top end of the World Series’ overall rankings.
With this being a World Cup year and the development of smaller nations ever-increasing, this will be another long, tough campaign. However, if the glimmer of optimism displayed in London last year continues, there is the potential for this to be a very exciting year for Scottish Sevens.
Scotland 7s core squad to compete on the 2017/18 HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series (World Series tournaments in brackets)
- Hugh Blake (16)
- Jack Cuthbert (3)
- Harvey Elms (0)*
- Jamie Farndale (21)
- Robbie Fergusson (0)
- Dougie Fife (16)
- James Fleming (43)
- Nyle Godsmark (12)*
- James Johnstone (40)
- Gavin Lowe (16)
- Nick McLennan (12)
- Jo Nayacavou (27)
- Sam Pecqueur (0)*
- Scott Riddell (57) CAPTAIN
* Denotes a player on a part-time training contract