Fraser Brown revival boosted by Scotland World Cup 7s place
THE CAREER of one of Scotland’s most promising teenage hookers, Fraser Brown, has been given a fresh lift by the Scotland sevens squad this week.
When Brown emerged through the Scotland age-grade squads and captained the Under-20s he was viewed as a hooker to challenge Ross Ford in a position in which Scottish rugby has struggled to unearth top-class rivals. But he suffered injuries to his shoulder (twice), bicep and neck and spent the first two years of his pro life with Edinburgh battling in vain to be passed 100 per cent fit. It ended with the youngster being released by the club last summer without having played a game and considering quitting the sport altogether.
However, as he recovered full fitness, he was persuaded to return to the game socially with Heriot’s and it quickly became apparent, as he scored seven tries in his first four games – albeit playing at flanker – that he was still a cut above amateur club performers. He was selected for the Scotland club international side and then called into the Scotland sevens squad by coach Graham Shiel for the Fira tournaments in Lyon and Moscow earlier this summer.
Now, with skipper Scott Riddell injured he has been called up to the 12-strong national squad for the vital Rugby World Cup 7s qualifying tournament in Portugal which starts tomorrow. Colin Gregor also returns as skipper, replacing Watsonians youngster Jack Ferguson.
Brown said: “It was a steep learning curve to be involved in the Fira tournaments but it was a good experience especially after a two-and-a-half year gap from playing through injury. At the end of August last year I wasn’t really planning to play any rugby so to be chosen for the club international after three months back playing and then to have the honour of being involved with Scotland 7s has been very special.”
Scotland will face Spain, to whom they lost in the IRB world sevens tournament in Glasgow, the Netherlands and Romania in their pool with Portugal, Ukraine, Italy, Lithuania, France, Georgia, Germany and Belgium. None of those sides can be taken lightly by the Scots, as many are throwing significant funds at sevens rugby in an effort to push for Olympic recognition in 2016.
Scotland should, however, finish in the top five and qualify for the 2013 Rugby World Cup Sevens in Moscow, and Shiel is hopeful that Brown will help their effort as much as this involvement could help provide him with a fresh launchpad to pro rugby.
“Fraser played in two of the Fira tournaments on the back of a strong club campaign,” said Shiel. “He brings physicality and is a very driven individual who is desperately keen to move on with his rugby. This weekend for us is all about being in the top five. That’s what we set out to achieve and that’s the bottom line on which we’ll be measured. It’s all that matters. But every country, without exception, is putting bigger emphasis on sevens now.”
Scotland sevens squad: Colin Shaw, Michael Maltman, Michael Fedo, Fraser Brown, Struan Dewar, Rory Hughes, Colin Gregor (capt), Russell Weir, Jim Thompson, Byron McGuigan, Andrew Turnbull and James Fleming.
Fixtures: Tomorrow: Scotland v Netherlands (5pm); Scotland v Romania (7.12pm), Scotland v Spain (9.46pm).
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