Scotland’s rugby sevens players pulled off a stunning win over England to lift the Paris Sevens Bowl in the penultimate stop of the World Series, the same week that five of their number were named on Team GB’s long list for the Rio 2016 Olympics.
Glasgow 2014 stars Mark Bennett and Scott Riddell were named alongside Jamie Farndale, Gavin Lowe and Mark Robertson in the 25-man Team GB training squad, which will be whittled down to 12 players for the final Olympic team. The squad will play four tournaments during June and July, including three rounds of the Rugby Europe Sevens Series in Moscow, Exeter and Gdynia, before a final decision is made.
Of the five, Riddell, Farndale and Robertson were in action in Paris, and Farndale, who captainedScotland’s sevens team to 4th place at the 2011 Commonwealth Youth Games in Isle of Man, looked to be out to impress with tries in three of Scotland’s four victories on route to the Bowl. Putting the frustration of a narrow group stage defeat to eventual Cup winners, Samoa, behind them, Scotland scored emphatic wins over Wales (35-7) and Brazil (38-14) to set up a Bowl semi-final clash with the USA.
This was a far closer game, the teams level on seven points apiece at the break. Veteran of two Commonwealth Games and two Sevens World Cup appearances, Scott Riddell put Scotland ahead with a second half try, converted by Nick McLennan, and the team just held on for the win (14-12) as the USA’s final conversion went wide.
The prize was a tussle with England for the Bowl and Scotland wasted no time in making their mark on the match. Converted tries from James Johnstone and Scott Wight gave them a 14-0 lead after just four minutes and the Scots kept up the momentum, taking a 16 point advantage into the interval.
Farndale powered through the English defence for a second-half try to seal the win. A late try from England’s Charlie Hayter was not enough to reverse the result and Scotland emerged as victors, 28-10, to lift the Bowl for the third time this season.
The Sevens World Series concludes next weekend in London, where Scotland will look to finish on a high, before Riddell, Robertson, Farndale, Lowe and Bennett begin their road to Rio with the Team GB squad.