Jamie Farndale says Scots aim to give coach winning send-off

Scotland Sevens lynchpin Jamie Farndale is determined to give head coach Calum MacRae a fitting send-off this weekend when the squad compete at the London Sevens as the defending champions.

Scotland's Jamie Farndale scores a try during the quarter final defeat of Fiji in Paris. Picture: Charles McQuillan/Getty Images
Scotland's Jamie Farndale scores a try during the quarter final defeat of Fiji in Paris. Picture: Charles McQuillan/Getty Images

After the 10th and final Sevens World Series event of 2016/17 on Saturday and Sunday at Twickenham, MacRae will move on to pastures new as Edinburgh Rugby’s defence coach under new head coach Richard Cockerill.

There is little doubt that MacRae has been a big success as Scotland Sevens’ main man over the last three years, leading them to their first cup win at Twickenham 12 months ago and to the final of the Paris event at the weekend.

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He has also helped young players like Damien Hoyland and George Horne flourish in the sevens arena, the former now a regular with Edinburgh and the latter set to kick on with Glasgow Warriors next term.

Farndale, who made his debut at Twickenham in 2015 and has since played 20 straight tournaments on the Sevens World Series, said: “Calum has been great for the sevens squad.

“He sets high standards, but we all want to meet them because his enthusiasm and the amount of extra work he puts in to make us better is phenomenal.

“Calum knows what he wants from his team and is very good at getting the message across. We are a close knit bunch and we will be sorry to see him go.

“From my point of view he has helped me a lot adapt to the sevens game and I feel I am a far better player for having worked with him over the last few years.

“However, off the back of getting to the final in Paris at the weekend we know that we have one big performance left in us before the summer break and we want to go out and do well at Twickenham for Calum.”

It is no surprise that Farndale, 23, is in confident mood as he speaks from the team hotel in London because in Paris Scotland defeated the two best sevens teams in the world.

In the pool stages they got the better of South Africa and then in the quarter-finals they shocked Fiji 24-0.

Over the two days they also beat Canada, Japan and old rivals England before running out of steam and being defeated by South Africa in the final.

The result meant that South Africa were crowned overall series champions and Farndale, George Horne and Mark Robertson were named in the event’s “Dream Team” for their positive showings.

Farndale and Robertson are consistent performers, but it was the displays of 22-year-old Horne, the brother of Scotland cap Peter, that had most tongues wagging.

“George is just a real ball of energy and he just loves being out there playing,” Farndale explained.

“There was one point on the second day I looked over to him and he looked pretty knackered, but then he got the ball and skipped past a couple of defenders and created a try and showed what he is all about.

“He is ultra competitive, but a great team player and he has taken to life on the Sevens World Series really well.

“Another couple of guys who played very well were Scott Riddell and Jack Cuthbert.

“To have our captain Scott back after injury was a boost because he gets through a power of work while Jack was new to the group, but fitted in right away and carried the ball very well making a number of yards.

“Over the weekend it was a squad effort and to come off at the end gutted that we hadn’t won the Cup shows the standards we set.”

Twickenham was the scene of Scotland’s greatest ever triumph in the abbreviated game last May, Dougie Fife’s late try seeing them crowned champions.

And Farndale, who was part of that squad, cannot wait to return this weekend.

He explained: “The memories from the last few minutes at Twickenham last year are never far from my thoughts. It was amazing to be part of and now we want to go out there and perform well on the same pitch and see where it takes us.

“We are certainly feeling in a good place.”