Scotland Sevens eye medal push at 2018 Commonwealth Games

Scotland Sevens captain Scott Riddell believes that 'something special could happen' and has faith that his side can compete for a medal at the Commonwealth Games in Australia in 2018.

Captain Scott Riddell believes the Scotland Sevens squad is in great shape as they eye success in the 2018 Games in Australia. Picture: Jeff Holmes
Captain Scott Riddell believes the Scotland Sevens squad is in great shape as they eye success in the 2018 Games in Australia. Picture: Jeff Holmes

With less than eight months to go until the next Games, Team Scotland yesterday confirmed the first tranche of team sports set to compete in the Gold Coast next April 
following invitations from 
the Games Organising 

Netball, men’s basketball and men’s rugby sevens will all be represented, as Team Scotland aims for its most successful ever overseas Games.

And for Riddell, from the latter sport, that means an opportunity to perhaps attend a third Games having been involved in Delhi in 2010 and Glasgow in 2014.

Riddell, the 31-year-old from Edinburgh, has been around the Scotland Sevens set-up for a number of years now – and believes the squad, under new head coach John Dalziel, are in great shape heading into 2017-18.

He played his part as Scotland defeated New Zealand for the first time at any level back in May at Twickenham, the side eventually going on to win their second ever World Series event that weekend.

That completed a successful 2016-17 for them, finishing seventh on the circuit after ten events, and although key players like Scott Wight and Mark Robertson have moved on the core of the group is still together.

With a World Cup in San Francisco to look forward to next summer as well as ten World Series events and the Games it promises to be a busy and exciting 2017/18 for Riddell and co.

“We aren’t just going down to Australia next April to take part, a medal is definitely an aim,” he said.

“We will sit down soon and set out goals for the upcoming World Series season and the Commonwealth Games in the coming weeks, but you have to be ambitious and have high aspirations.

“We won the last tournament we played in and were in the final of the one before that [in France] so we feel like something special could happen, but we have to put the hard work in first.

“The past couple of Games I have been to have been highlights of my career and should I make selection for the Gold Coast it would be something I’d really look forward to.

“I think I am right in saying that no team sport has ever won a medal for Scotland at a Games, so we have to go for it.

“The Games are very special to Scots. It is something that only occurs every four years and has a buzz around it.”

The last time Scotland Sevens took a team to the Games in 2014 they brought in the likes of Stuart Hogg and Sean Lamont from the XV-a-side national team to supplement the squad.

Mark Bennett was also there while Tommy Seymour, now of course a British & Irish Lion, was due to be until he was injured.

However, it is unlikely we will see the 2018 squad for the Gold Coast featuring the likes of Hogg, Finn Russell and Hamish Watson as the event is just after the Six Nations – and Riddell is keen for the core sevens players to really put their hands up for selection.

“I can’t comment on [XVs] guys coming in and out at the moment, but I do know that we have a core group who have been performing very well so that is what we focus on,” 
he added.

“There are a lot of logistics to consider, the Six Nations is on around that time so guys will be tied up with that and younger guys will be asked to play for Glasgow and Edinburgh so it is more important than ever that the core sevens guys are fit and playing well come April.

“It is within our powers to make sure that we deserve selection and I know from a personal point of view that I really want to be part of the Games again.

“It would be special. In Delhi in 2010 I was just coming into things and was a bit overawed by it, by Glasgow I was very focused to make the squad and the atmosphere at Ibrox was something I will never experience again.”