The Scotland men’s squad are keen to get their HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series campaign for 2019-20 off to a flying start in Dubai this week – and they will have a pilot at the forefront of their bid to produce the goods in the UAE.
Tom Brown, now 29, is a core Scotland Sevens player having left Edinburgh Rugby at the end of last term after spending the majority of his career with the pro club and earning a full international XV-a-side cap against Australia back in 2012.
It is said to be important for all sportsmen and women to switch off in their downtime away from the “day job” and Brown gets away from the stresses and strains from the pitch by flying.
When he took up flying four years ago he “fell in love with it” and now has his private pilots licence (PPL) and plans to continue doing more of it post-rugby.
“My love of flying probably comes from having lived with [Scotland XVs captain] Stuart McInally,” Brown explained.
“We have gone through everything together rugby wise since we were in our late teens and, on top of that, Stuart always had an interest in flying and aviation.
“When I lived with Stuart we would talk quite a bit about his flying and he suggested that I head up to Tayside Aviation in Fife and find out what it was all about myself.
“I did that and I just fell in love with flying straight away. From that first flight until now it has probably been about four years and I have secured my private pilots licence and it is something that I want to pursue long-term.
“As a rugby player it is so important to have interests outwith the sport and I have found flying a great way to get away from things when I have had injuries or have been going through dips in my career.
“Flying has been a massive thing for me and has always given me a boost when I have been feeling a bit down and it is just an amazing feeling to get up there and see things from a different perspective.
“A while back I was out with a long-term hamstring injury and it was probably the toughest time in my rugby career, but flying and getting to the end of my PPL gave me a real focus.”
In the coming years, Brown hopes to get into the world of commercial flying but, for now he is focused on making the transition from being a full-back/winger in rugby XVs to being a forward in the seven-a-side game. And with Great Britain Olympic selection up for grabs next summer for players from the home nations, and Scotland now being under the guidance of a new head coach in the shape of Ciaran Beattie, Brown is determined to hit the heights with his new team mates in Dubai.
“I was lucky enough to play a couple of World Series events at the end of last season with the Scotland boys and have had an extended pre-season with them to get to grips with playing sevens regularly and I can’t wait for this week’s tournament in Dubai,” he stated.
“At this point of my career it has been great to have a completely new challenge and I have come into a hugely positive environment which has Ciaran leading the way.
“I have been learning how to play the hooker role in sevens and we had a really good warm-up tournament in Spain a few weeks ago. None of the guys are thinking about Olympic selection yet, especially me who is just new to this form of the game, but I am keen to do well for Scotland in this first tournament of the year.”
Scotland, under previous head coach John Dalziel, finished tenth on the ten-tournament circuit last year which was won by Fiji. The team will want to better that this time as all roads lead to in Paris in May.
For the Dubai tournament, Robbie Fergusson has been named captain of the squad while Femi Sofolarin, who played for England last term, makes a Scotland debut along with Marr’s Scott Bickerstaff.
Jed-Forest’s Callum Young is 13th man.