NEW sevens coach Phil Greening met Scotland’s Commonwealth Games committee in Stirling yesterday, hours before announcing his first world series squad, and immediately set Glasgow 2014 as the great target for every rugby player with sevens ambitions in Scotland.
Having tasted success with England as a XVs and sevens player and coach, in August Greening was put in charge of turning around the Scotland sevens programme. His first task may be to push the team into the cup quarter-finals in Australia in a fortnight, as the 2012-13 world series gets underway but he stated that the Commonwealth Games already looms large. He said: “It was the bigger picture that attracted me to this job. It wasn’t just the SRU, but beyond that for me. Having the Commonwealth Games in 2014 in Glasgow and having an impact there, and being able to tap into the institute of sport and what sportscotland’s doing here, was huge for me.
“And one of the questions I had for the players was what motivates them, and it is the Commonwealth Games for most of them, and beyond to the Olympics [rugby sevens enters in 2016]. All the nations are now getting their Olympic funding, and, by the time we get to the Olympics in Rio, there could be 14 or 15 world series tournaments. We now have 15 core teams with Portugal, Spain and Canada coming on board with Olympic funding, and we have Russia, China and Brazil itself knocking on the door.
“As a player to go to the Olympics would be something else. I was fortunate to get to the Commonwealth Games and it is very special, and it’s important for us to make sure we are aligned with the programme and the rest of the sports for the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow because I want the players to realise that this is different to the world sevens series. There is a massive buzz about that at the moment and, as we get closer to Glasgow, I think it’s going to erupt.”
Greening’s journey starts with a tough opening world series event on the Gold Coast, where Scotland face hosts Australia, Fiji and Tonga on Saturday 13 and Sunday 14 October. He has called up Ayr scrum-half Peter Jericevich, having been impressed by his ability and dedication to a gruelling training schedule in his spare time as well as with the squad at Murrayfield.
Praising the support of the Ayr club, Greening said that Jericevich’s selection was a sign that the door is open to any player in Scotland prepared to take up the challenge. Colin Gregor remains the Scotland captain and Jericevich joins sevens full-timers Chris Dean, Michael Fedo, Rory Hughes, Mark Robertson, Andrew Turnbull, Michael Maltman, Colin Shaw, Alex Glashan and James Fleming in the squad that flies out on Tuesday. Greening will name a 12th man after receiving medical reports on another candidate.
Jericevich said: “I’ve always had a love for sevens and have kept playing it over the past few years. I’ve felt the sharpest I have ever been playing with Ayr this season but I know going out to Australia, adjusting to the climate and competing well, that the bigger challenge starts now.”
As for what Greening expects, the coach added: “I just want to see an improvement in the way we portray ourselves against the other nations. I want to be better than tenth [current ranking]. We start with Australia, Fiji and Tonga and it couldn’t really be any harder but, if we get out of our group, that would be a good start for me. And if we don’t we have to make sure we progress in the Plate.”#
Chris Dean (Scotland 7s EDP), Michael Fedo (Scotland 7s), Rory Hughes (Scotland 7s EDP), Peter Jericevich (Ayr), Colin Gregor (Scotland 7s) (captain), Mark Robertson (Scotland 7s), Andrew Turnbull (Scotland 7s), Michael Maltman (Scotland 7s), Colin Shaw (Scotland 7s), Alex Glashan (Scotland 7s EDP), James Fleming (Scotland 7s), A N Other.