SCOTLAND Sevens coach John Dalziel has failed in an 11th-hour attempt to include Darcy Graham in his squad for next week’s World Cup – but is confident he still has the players to compete at the highest level.
Edinburgh back Graham has scored some spectacular tries on the sevens circuit, making it easy to see why Dalziel was so keen to take him to San Francisco, where the action gets under way next Friday. But, after discussions with the pro team, the coach reluctantly accepted that the player’s priority should be pre-season training at home.
“We were just looking at the possibility of Darcy being released by, but it falls at a pretty poor time for us,” Dalziel said after announcing the group of 12 who will fly out to the USA on Sunday. “The lad had a long time at the Junior World Cup last year, then he played on [at the sevens tournaments] in Paris and Twickenham after Edinburgh had finished. And he’s just coming back from holiday.
“We had a good discussion around it, but he’s probably done his bit for the year for us and we have to let him get his head into Edinburgh for next season. He’s come in and done his bit for us this year and been with us a lot, but this gives him the opportunity to train with Edinburgh in a block and then play in the pre-season games in three or four weeks. He’s going to be fast-tracked into that, then where he needs to kick on is looking at Edinburgh and then hopefully the international team.”
Scott Riddell captains the squad, which includes Craig Jackson, the BT Premiership player of the year, and his Melrose clubmate Sam Pecquer. While Riddell is the only member to have played in the World Cup finals before, Dalziel is happy with the make-up of the group, and apart from Graham has had no-one ruled out by either injury or any other kind of unavailability. Indeed, Pecquer and Alec Coombes are both not long back from injury and could thus be seen as compensation for Graham’s non-involvement.
“Sam Pecqueur has been out since the second tournament in Cape Town [in December] and Alec Coombes played a few tournaments and then got injured, so if Darcy had been available there would have been some really tough calls,” the coach continued. “There were a number anyway.
“All of the guys have been on the same journey, and as a coach it’s hard to pick 12 bodies: we do have genuine depth. We have shown we can beat the top teams.”
Unlike on the regular international sevens circuit, there is no group stage in San Francisco. The winners of the qualifying tie between Kenya and Tonga will be Scotland’s first opponents early next Saturday morning UK time, with the winners of that match progressing to the quarter-finals of the main event and the losers going into the Challenge Trophy.
Scotland squad for RWC Sevens:
1 Scott Riddell (captain)
2 Nyle Godsmark
3 Jo Nayacavou
4 Jack Cuthbert
5 Alec Coombes
6 Robbie Fergusson
7 Gavin Lowe
8 Craig Jackson
9 Harvey Elms
10 Max McFarland
11 Jamie Farndale
12 Sam Pecquer