Some four years of hard work, of highs and of lows, have led to this weekend. Today (Friday 25 July) marks the eve of the rugby sevens tournament at the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games.
During the past 1,460 days, a full-time sevens programme has been implemented, beginning at the outset of season 2011-12, the abbreviated national team’s most successful head coach, Stephen Gemmell, was reinstated in January 2013 and the Emirates Airline Edinburgh Sevens Festival was transported along the M8 to Scotstoun Stadium, where the Emirates Airline Glasgow 7s has taken place for the past three years.
It was in the host city, only two months ago that Scotland 7s matched their best ever finish in a HSBC Sevens World Series event, finishing in fourth place
Now, it is the belief of many that Gemmell has picked the best ever 12-man squad to pull-on Scotland’s short game jersey and that this is a squad who can make sevens history.
There is a palpable level of excitement in the country ahead of the Commonwealth Games which will be held in Glasgow this year. Driving up the road over the weekend one was reminded by overhead sign boards long before reaching Glasgow of the need to plan ahead and potential difficulties in travelling as a result of the Games.
The online search engine Google has the theme of the games on its page, there is a lot of coverage in the media both online, in print and of course in audio and visual. Radio schedules have already been changed on some stations providing coverage already ahead of the Games which are due to get kick started with the opening ceremony tonight. In advertising it’s radio coverage the national broadcaster has even made a pledge to bring all the action of Scotland’s medal winning events live to the public. Colleagues have members of their family involved on a voluntary basis as ambassadors for Glasgow 2014 with some having already been helping out in the Athletes Village for the last two weeks.
Stuart Hogg has been named in the Scotland 7′s squad to compete at the forthcoming Commonwealth Games in Glasgow (Ibrox Stadium, Saturday 26 and Sunday 27 July).
Scottish Rugby and Commonwealth Games Scotland can confirm Scotland’s 24 times capped full-back and British & Irish Lion will replace Tommy Seymour. Seymour sustained a neck injury during the Scotland summer tour that will rule him out of the Games, however he will return to the care of Glasgow Warriors to recover and prepare for the new season.
The joke is going around that Heyneke Meyer describes everything the Bokke does as “AWESOME“!
Well, the South African public have reason to be AWED by the AWESOME display of the Springboks and their AWESOME coach!
Not only are the Springboks playing a very well-rounded and balanced game, 2 and a half years into Heyneke Meyer’s tenure, but it appears that the Springoks can now call on 40 odd players to do National duty for them at any given time.
Not only do the Springboks have locks of absolute world class to burn, the looseforwards are equally impressive, the midfield options have been greatly bolstered… and the flyhalf stocks are suddenly no concern anymore, with well-rounded performances by Handré Pollard and Marnitz Boshoff.
The biggest problems still for the Springboks, seem to be adequate depth at both loosehead and tighthead prop.
With almost 30 frontline Springboks out with injury and / or not available due to the International Window having closed before the start of the Test on the weekend, the mix-and-match Springboks certainly excelled on the weekend.
The 5 Springbok debutants, Handré Pollard, Marnitz Boshoff, Marcel van der Merwe, Stephan Lewies and Teboho ‘Oupa’ Mohoje also distinguished themselves on the field of play.
At the end of the June Internationals, the Springboks and Heyneke Meyer finally have reason to smile!
Springboks (19) 55 / 6 (6) Scotland (Final Score)
The South African Springboks and Scotland did battle in the June Internationals at
Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Port Elizabeth 17:00 SA Time (16:00 BST, 15:00 GMT).
This was the live match discussion Article.
The match was broadcast LIVE on SuperSport 1, SHD & M-Net on TV in SA.
Never can a nightmare have turned good as quickly as Adam Ashe’s. He spent almost the entire season fighting a recurring hamstring injury and though he did recover in time to win the chance to go training at the Canterbury International High Performance unit in Christchurch, New Zealand, everything was in reality geared to trying to make an impression next season.
He has not had to wait that long for his chance. Even though he had hardly played any rugby during the Scottish season and had managed only 36 minutes of pro play as a replacement for Glasgow, he has been propelled from the fringes of the game to centre stage as the starting No 8 against South Africa.
The magnitude of the step up is huge. For example, among the Springbok back row is Schalk Burger. Ashe was just ten when Burger started playing for South Africa in the 2003 Rugby World Cup, scarcely any older when Burger won the World Player of the Year award. No wonder that, with his strong ball carrying and kamikaze tackling style, Burger was one of teenage Ashe’s heroes.
A capacity crowd is expected at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium on Saturday when the Springboks take on Scotland.
EP Rugby CEO, Charl Crous, said there were roughly 3 500 tickets left by Thursday afternoon and tickets were selling fast.
“We have seen an upsurge in ticket sales this week and we are encouraging those who have not yet got tickets to please get them as soon as possible to avoid disappointment.”
Crous said it would be great to be able to put up “sold out” signs ahead of the Test match and called on Nelson Mandela Bay residents to come out and support the Springboks.
He also advised people to come early to ensure that everyone would be able to get into the stadium before kickoff at 17:00 SA Time.
Edinburgh’s backline resources for the new season were boosted with the signing of Highlanders utility back Phil Burleigh.
Burleigh signed a two-year deal with the Scottish outfit.
The 27-year-old playmaker came through the ranks with Bay of Plenty, before becoming a regular star in the Southern Hemisphere’s top flight Super Rugby competition.
Junior Springbok captain Handré Pollard is one of five uncapped players who have been named in the Springboks’ match-23 for Saturday’s final encounter of the Castle Lager Incoming Series against Scotland in Port Elizabeth.
In total, the Springbok starting team shows six changes from the side which beat Wales by 31-30 in Nelspruit last weekend.
The four uncapped players on a new-look bench are Marcel van der Merwe (prop), Stephan Lewies (lock), Teboho “Oupa” Mohoje (loose forward) and Marnitz Boshoff (flyhalf). Also on the bench are Adriaan Strauss, Trevor Nyakane, Francois Hougaard and Zane Kirchner, none of whom have played any Test rugby yet this season.
Two players, Pollard and Marcell Coetzee, have not yet featured for the Springboks this year, while four of these are replacements who have been promoted to the starting team, namely Lwazi Mvovo, Schalk Burger, Lood de Jager and Coenie Oosthuizen.
Adam Ashe, the 20-year-old Glasgow Warriors No 8, will become the seventh new cap of Scotland’s summer tour when he takes to the field against South Africa in Port Elizabeth on Saturday.
Ashe, a product of the Hillfoots and Stirling County clubs, was preparing for club training at Lincoln University in Christchurch one week ago, having been domiciled for a couple of months in New Zealand’s South Island as recipient of the John Macphail Scholarship.
Others have graduated to full international honours and have cited the “invaluable” experience the scholarship has bequeathed them, for example, John Barclay, Grant Gilchrist, Jonny Gray and Kevin Bryce.
The match is played at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Port Elizabeth at 17:00 SA Time, 16:00 BST, 15:00 GMT.
Former Scotland international flyhalf Dan Parks has announced his retirement from all forms of rugby after retiring from international rugby in 2012.
Australian born Parks played for Scotland over an eight year period in which he won 67 caps.
Springbok defence coach John McFarland says they have taken note of the dangerous back three of Scotland ahead of their Test in Port Elizabeth on Saturday.
Scotland head into the Test on the back of three consecutive away wins – against Argentina (21-19), Canada (19-17) and America (24-6).
They also have a new coach in Vern Cotter, but it was in particular the performances of Stuart Hogg (fullback), Sean Maitland (wing) and Tommy Seymour (wing) that caught the eye of the Springbok management.
The Springbok team to face Scotland in Port Elizabeth will be markedly different from the one that edged Wales in Nelspruit, by necessity rather than design.
With seven European-based players unavailable for selection and at least another two starters ruled through injury Heyneke Meyer’s hand will be forced when he names his team to face an under-strength Scotland.
However, the idea that Meyer should completely overhaul the team and give promising youngsters a shot because the match falls outside the June Test window and Scotland will not have their best team on the park is a little bit misguided.
Scotland head to South Africa this week on the final leg of what has been an arduous tour which has seen them play games in the USA, Canada and Argentina.
They set out with two squads selected for the tour, one which contained players for the North America leg and one for the Southern Hemisphere leg with some players there for the whole tour. There have been various changes made on the way though and now the Glasgow Warriors trio of Tyrone Holmes, Adam Ashe and Euan Murray have been added to the squad for the final test against the Springboks in Port Elizabeth on Saturday.
Pumas (8) 19 / 21 (7) Scotland (Final Score)
The Argentinian Pumas and Scotland did battle in the June Internationals at
Estadio Mario Alberto Kempes, Córdoba at 21:10 SA Time (16:10 ARG Time, 20:10 BST, 19:10 GMT).
This was the live match discussion Article.
The match was broadcast LIVE on SuperSport 1, SHD & CSN on TV in SA.
It is understood that French-based players in the Springbok squad are unlikely to be available to play Scotland in next week’s Test in Port Elizabeth.
This means the likes of Morne Steyn, Gurthro Steenkamp, Bakkies Botha and Bryan Habana will all have to report back to their clubs.
It’s understood the clubs will invoke International Rugby Board (IRB) Regulation Nine, which governs the release of players for the June test window.
The regulation stipulates that releases are required for the second, third and fourth weekends of June, or for three matches.
Grant Gilchrist will captain an inexperienced Scotland side against Argentina in Cordoba on Friday.
The 23-year-old Edinburgh lock will be playing in his seventh international, having scored a try in last Saturday’s 19-17 win over Canada.
Stuart Hogg, Sean Maitland and Peter Horne also keep their places as 13 new faces joined the tour party this week.
Scrum-half Grayson Hart, lock Jonny Gray and back-row forward Kieran Low all make their first starts.
With scrum-half Greig Laidlaw among those returning home after victories against USA and Canada, Gilchrist becomes Scotland’s youngest captain since Gregor Townsend led the team against Australia 18 years ago.
The already depleted Scotland team suffered another big blow, with back row forward David Denton out of their mid-year tour.
The 24-year-old Edinburgh player, Denton, will play no part in the tour matches against Argentina in Cordoba on Friday and for the closing match against South Africa in Port Elizabeth a week on Saturday.
Scotland team doctor James Robson explained that Denton suffered a concussion in his last game of the season for Edinburgh against Leinster in the Pro12 last month.
Peter Horne will make his first Scotland start in Saturday’s Test against Canada in Toronto.
The Glasgow centre replaces the injured Duncan Taylor in one of four changes to the side that beat USA 24-6.
Grant Gilchrist takes Jim Hamilton’s place in the second row, while prop Moray Low is in for Geoff Cross.
Kelly Brown returns to the back row for his 64th cap, with scrum-half Greig Laidlaw retaining the captaincy and Finn Russell staying at fly-half.
Russell, 21, enjoyed a promising debut in Texas along with Glasgow team-mate Gordon Reid, who also keeps his place in the front row. Brown’s inclusion means Blair Cowan drops to the bench after winning his first cap.
The Springboks completed a successful first match of their season on Saturday against Nick Mallet’s World XV at Newlands but the first proper international action for them starts this weekend as the Castle Lager Incoming Series gets underway with a Test against Wales in Durban on Saturday.
There often is debate and criticism about the make up of squads that Northern Hemisphere countries send on these mid-year tours which take place after their taxing domestic seasons. This year though the two teams due to play against South Africa have got good reason to be fielding teams which are going to be under strength in certain areas. The Test against Scotland falls outside the international window and so their players who ply their trade outside Scotland will not be making the trip over. The tour for Wales has been made much harder due to numerous injuries, no least to inspirational captain Sam Warburton.
All Blacks U20 (21) 54 / 7 (0) Scotland U20 (Final Score)
New Zealand Under 20 and Scotland Under 20 did battle in the Junior World Championship at
ECOLight Stadium, Pukekohe at 09:35 SA Time (19:35 NZ Time, 08:35 BST, 07:35 GMT).
This was the live match discussion Article.
The match was broadcast LIVE on SuperSport 1 & SHD on TV in SA.
USA (3) 6 / 24 (17) Scotland (Final Score)
The USA Eagles and Scotland did battle in the June Internationals at
BBVA Compass Stadium, Houston at 02:30 SA Time (01:30 BST, 00:30 GMT).
This was the live match discussion Article.
The match was broadcast by Universal Sports and streamed Live online on dailyrecord.co.uk.
Saracens forward Hayden Smith has been restored to the USA side to face Scotland, while Seattle fly-half Shalom Siniula will be handed his first start.
Siniula is rewarded for a try in the second leg after earning his first two caps in the World Cup qualifying victory over Uruguay.
Seattle lock Louis Stanfill was preferred to Smith for the second leg.
But Smith returns alongside Stanfill in a XV that includes six players who ply their trade in England.
Head coach Vern Cotter has named three starting debutants in his first Scotland selection for this Saturday’s summer Test match against USA in Houston, Texas (7 June, kick-off 7.30pm local time, 1.30am BST, 2.30an SA Time). The match will be streamed live on dailyrecord.co.uk.
Glasgow Warriors pair Gordon Reid (prop) and Finn Russell (stand-off), and London Irish back-row, Blair Cowan, will start their first international outing at the BBVA Compass Stadium, while prop Alex Allan (Glasgow Warriors) and scrum-half Grayson Hart (Edinburgh Rugby) could debut from the bench.
Edinburgh Rugby are delighted to announce the signing of 22-year-old Scotland stand-off Tom Heathcote, from Bath Rugby, on a one-year deal to 2015.
Born in Inverness, Heathcote won his first cap for the nation as a replacement in the 2012 EMC Test against Tonga at Pittodrie Stadium in Aberdeen.
He was selected in Scotland’s 2013 RBS 6 Nations squad and subsequently started at stand-off for Scotland A, kicking eight points in the 13-9 win over England Saxons, the side’s first win on English soil.
He then went on to make two starts for Scotland in the 2013 summer quadrangular tournament against Samoa and Italy, and is considered one of the brightest young contenders for the national number 10 jersey.