Coach John Dalziel positive about 7s going to San Francisco

Scotland Rugby 7s head coach John Dalziel. Picture: Gary Hutchison/SNS/SRU
Scotland Rugby 7s head coach John Dalziel. Picture: Gary Hutchison/SNS/SRU
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Scotland Sevens boss John Dalziel had a late bid to include Edinburgh wing Darcy Graham in his Rugby World Cup Sevens squad turned down by the pro team.

Discussions were being held just hours before the 12-man squad who will compete in San Francisco next weekend was named.

“We were just looking at the possibility of getting Darcy released by Edinburgh,” explained Dalziel. “But it falls at a pretty poor time for us as the lad had the under-20 World Cup last summer, then played a lot of rugby for us and some for Edinburgh this season so he is just back from holidays now and into his block one of pre-season.

“We had a good discussion, but he has probably done his bit for the year for us and we have to let him get his head in Edinburgh stuff.”

Graham played nine out of ten tournaments on the world sevens circuit last season and wanted to add a World Cup to his CV but it has been agreed that it is better he continues pre-season with his club.

Dalziel added: “He was keen he is a young guy who has come in and done his bit for us this year and been with us a lot, but this gives him the opportunity to train with Edinburgh in a block and then play in the pre-season games in a few weeks.

“He will be fast tracked into Edinburgh this year and he has to try and grab that chance.”

Beyond that, Dalziel said he was happy with the dozen he will take to California to compete for the Melrose Cup in a tournament which was first held at an under-construction Murrayfield in 1993, when a Lawrence Dallaglio-led 
England side won.

Five years on from the last abbreviated game World Cup in Russia the format has changed to mirror the Melrose Sevens with a preliminary round and then last 16, where Scotland will face either Kenya or Tonga. They will hope to progress to the last eight rather than drop into the lower competitions.

“Sam Pecqueur has been out since the second tournament in Cape Town [back in December] and Alec Coombes played a few tournaments and then got injured so if Darcy had been available there would have been some really tough calls, well there were a number anyway,” said Dalziel.

One player to come in from outside the core group is Melrose’s Craig Jackson, who was the BT Premiership Player of the Year.

“It is good, with the programme we are trying to have a look at the hotbed of guys who are now too old for age-grade teams, have maybe played sevens previously and Jacko came back from London Scottish and has done really well with Melrose, winning the BT Premiership player of the year,” added Dalziel.

“He has been training with the group and with Nick McLennan moving on and getting injured in Paris the half-back situation does get stretched.

It is key to have half backs in there who can play a number of minutes.

Captain Scott Riddell is the only survivor from the last World Cup in Russia and has been having his memories stirred of that event by the ongoing football extravaganza taking place.

“It was in Moscow, in 2013, it was exciting, a different place to go to,” recalled Riddell. “It was in the Luzhniki Stadium, where the World Cup final will be played on Sunday. An incredible stadium.

“It wasn’t all that well supported, unfortunately, but it’s looking like San Francisco is really going well with the ticket sales. It’s looking like it’s going to be a really exciting event, with some exciting teams and a different format. Any team’s in the mix for this one, so we’re really looking forward to it.”

Scotland finished down in 12th on the world series last season but Riddell feels that this is a young group who are at the start of a journey.

“The boys are in a good place,” he said. “We’ve been through the mill a bit this season, and it’s something, something exciting that really gets us up for training.

“We’ve learned a lot of lessons on the world series this year.”