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Scotland’s prospects at sixes and Sevens

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THE Borders Sevens circuit kicked off yesterday, with the highlight next Saturday when Melrose play hosts to a cosmopolitan group of teams coming from as far away as India.

Meanwhile, the IRB Sevens circuit comes to a climax at the beginning of May in Glasgow and London.

Both are vital for the Scottish side, who currently lie in a precarious position in the rankings.

Should Scotland drop below their current world ranking, then they would lose their seeded status and be relegated into the lower echelons of the game.

That’s a somewhat ominous prospect, with the Commonwealth Games on the horizon.

The Dark Blues began this year’s campaign with a new coach, who is a Sevens specialist.

Phil Greening was somewhat blunt in his assessment of the physique of the Scottish players in comparison to other countries.

Yet he could not bring his knowledge of the abbreviated game to bear, and the Scots performed very poorly.

As is becoming common in the life of Scottish coaches, Greening departed and was replaced by Stevie Gemmell, who had previously held the job.

Right away, Scotland reached the quarter-finals of the Cup competition.

But since then, the Sevens performances have been somewhat erratic and inconsistent, an affliction that seems to be all-pervasive in Scottish rugby.

In Hong Kong, the Scots lost to Portugal then defeated England and drew with Samoa.

But they then lost both of their matches on Finals day against opposition they really should have beaten.

Now the Scottish team lies in 12th place in the rankings, equal on points with the United States, who have unearthed a Sevens star in Carlin Isles.

He would have reached the semi-finals of the 100 metres at the London Olympics, yet in the USA he wasn’t even close to Olympic team selection.

He has only been playing Sevens for a matter of weeks, but with such searing pace he has made an incredible impression.

Scotland need to win enough of their games in both Glasgow and London to ensure that they remain above the Americans.

At Scotstoun they will be in the same pool as current leaders New Zealand, England and their nemesis in Hong Kong, Portugal.

But the question remains whether the best Sevens players in Scotland are in the national team.

These two weekends ought to be a showcase for promising club players to stake their claim.

But will Gemmell and Co. take notice? It would be good if they did.