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WILL CLARK - Scrapping Scottish Rugby Sevens team for Great Britain merger with England and Wales is wrong

By Will Clark

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Scottish Rugby has announced it is merging with England and Wales to form a Great Britain team for the World Rugby Sevens Series.

The Scotland Rugby Sevens squad has been announced. Picture: Craig Watson
The Scotland Rugby Sevens squad has been announced. Picture: Craig Watson

Apart from the Commonwealth Games held every four years, and the Rugby Sevens World Cup, taking place in South Africa in September, Scotland will no longer be represented at international level in the sport which it invented in Melrose in 1883.

It is to prepare Great Britain for the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris and onwards.

Scottish Rugby’s Director of High Performance Jim Mallinder said: “We are acutely aware of Scotland’s heritage and passion for sevens rugby.

“As such we remain fully committed to a Scotland 7’s programme to develop our players and coaches.”

How does that work if they only play in two competitions every four years?

He continued in a statement released by Scottish Rugby: “The move to a GB Sevens team on the World Series will give Scottish players, both men and women, a unique opportunity to represent and compete on the largest global stage through the World Series.”

What, three or four of them, with a group of English and Welsh players?

I think this is a slap in the face to the development of the game in Scotland.

But it’s not the first time decisions from Scottish Rugby have left me baffled.

We’re told Scotland can’t afford a third professional team in the United Rugby Championship.

But they can fund the Super Six for six semi professional teams to play in their own cut off league to develop the game while making a mess of the structure at club level.

Also Scottish Rugby has part ownership in American Major League Rugby team Old Glory DC.

The unions in England, Scotland and Wales will probably say their decision is justified after the performances of each country at the Commonwealth Games.

Both England and Wales failed to make it out of the group stages, while Scotland respectably made it to the quarter finals before being knocked out by runners-up Fiji and losing to winners South Africa during the group stages.

The Scottish Sevens team gave players the chance to develop their game on the international stage with the possibility of staking a claim to play professional rugby in 15’s.

But now that avenue has been taken away, it is a major blow in the development of athletes in what was already a small pathway in Scotland for players to make it.

It is great that Rugby Sevens is an Olympic sport and it does reach out to an audience which it would not do in any other tournament.

I also accept that the home nations must represent Great Britain under the rules of the Olympic Games.

But England, Scotland and Wales are considered major forces in the sport, and Olympic gold success should not be the driving force for the development of the sevens game, and rugby itself in these countries.

What’s next? Merging the international 15’s teams with the aim of the British Lions beating Australia in 2025? I have my own negative views on the British Lions in the professional era, but I will save those for three years time.

In the meantime, the loss of Scotland, England and Wales in the World Sevens Series is embarrassing to the traditions of the sport.

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