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Rugby Sevens World Cup 2018: It’s Not Coming Home

Jamie Farndale scores
Scotland's Jamie Farndale dives in for a try against Kenya to even the score on day one of the Rugby World Cup Sevens 2018 at AT&T Park in San Francisco on 20th July, 2018. Pic: © Mike Lee - KLC fotos for World Rugby

Scotland fell almost fell foul of the new Rugby World Cup Sevens structure by coming within seconds of losing their first game against Kenya in the straight knockout format.

An admirable late rally to pinch the tie from a 0-26 deficit with 5 minutes left on the clock was powered by a Jamie Farndale score and some refereeing in their favour that saw Kenya down two players at one point. This one finished 31-26 and is worth a watch for the end certainly.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wu-iju0itGY

That game was followed up by a similar tale against South Africa’s imposing Blitzbokke in the quarter-final who ran off to an early lead – but without the fairytale comeback as it proved insurmountable to Scotland who then dropped out of the cup competition when it finished 5-36.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zd7npGCepPU

After another dispiriting loss 28-0 to the home nation USA during a well-attended tournament in San Francisco, Scotland managed to pick themselves up for an eventual 29-24 win over France and a final placing of 7th.

This actually represents the highest World Cup Sevens finish since 2005 for a squad where only Scott Riddell had played in this tournament before. Still, it can’t be glossed over that it’s been a disappointing season for Scotland after a few seasons of challenging (and winning) trophies on the regular Series circuit.

There is some talent in the ranks with the likes of Harvey Elms and Gavin Lowe good, creative distributors and some pace out wide, but the core of experience in Fife, Robertson and Wight that they have lost from that cup-winning squad will take time to rebuild. This season James Fleming has retired, robbing them of some pace too.

If skipper Scott Riddell has an off-game or is injured then the whole team tends to suffer, as he is the engine that keeps them running. Likewise when he is on form, they can be very hard to beat as well as highly entertaining to watch.

For John Dalziell, it is a tricky thing to inherit a squad that had some success but minus a lot of the key reasons for that success. It should be onwards and upwards to next season but you imagine if he doesn’t get his lads firing quickly now he’s had time to bed in, questions might be asked this time next year…

2 Responses

  1. Questions have to be asked about Dalziell management throughout the season – losing 4 key players this season (The aforementioned 3 and Hugh Blake) has created a huge hole that has not been filled.

    We’ve barely challenged in the Cup comps throughout the season and after the last two seasons has been a real downer – especially when you consider how close we were to the SRU ditching the side.

    This season has seen another evolution in 7s – it’s become much more physical, contact is actively sought and the breakdown is the most vital area of the game. Most sides have filled up their squads with big athletic guys – what did we do, picked Cuthbert. There are too many players in the 7s squad that appear to be there solely on the basis they have a contract with the SRU so must be used.

    We no longer have a distinct style of play and for a coach who was one of the best restart 7s players around our restarts are pathetic – what is he coaching them in?

    Dalziell’s RWC selections were bewildering – he selected players from left field that he never used until the final mins against France in the last game of the tournament – what was the point in that? One of them hadn’t played since Jan and the other whilst a good 7s player, was never going to match the pace and power of genuine full time professionals.

    I suspect we are also going to have to find a replacement for Riddell too – he had talked about retiring last season and I suspect he might actually do it post RWC – as has been said, he’s the engine of the side and we are quite frankly clueless without him. Godsmark could fill the role, but I am not sure he has the stamina and breakdown skills – a 13 in the 15s game he’s had a fine season, but isn’t a like for like replacement.

    We need some fresh young players in the squad – preferably from the backrow and more pace, relying on Macfarland as our flier makes us easy to defend against. Farndale had a great tournament, but he’s not the flier that Fleming or Graham are.

    1. Dalziell’s been dealt a rubbish hand. Losing those players, also James Johnstone moved to 15s and lost the star of the previous season in George Horne. At the RWC he wasn’t even allowed to select Graham.

      We have to be realistic that if we use 7s as a feeder route for 15s and don’t treat it with any status we’ll not compete with the best sevens teams out there.

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