SCOTT WIGHT was unveiled this morning as the new head coach of the Scotland Women’s Sevens team, and he immediately set his squad a target of being one of the top two sides in this summer’s Rugby Europe Women’s Sevens Trophy, which consists of two tournaments in the Czech Republic on June 10th -11th and Hungary on July 22nd-23rd.
That would qualify Scotland for Rugby Europe’s Women’s Sevens Grand Prix Series in 2018, but Wight’s ambitions don’t stop there.
“Longer term, we are looking to put the women in a place to qualify for the World Series by 2021, and the 2022 Commonwealth Games, and get some girls involved in the 2020 Olympics,” he said.
Wight added that this new appointment should not be viewed as an indication that he is about to call time on his own playing career, but is in fact an ideal opportunity to get some coaching experience under his belt for when he does eventually decide to hang up his boots.
“We are all [the national men’s sevens squad] up for contract renewal. The sevens programme will definitely go ahead next year and I think they are in a position to speak to people now. I still fancy another couple of years,” said the 31-year-old, who has captained the side for the past two seasons and led them to their first tournament win on the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series circuit in London last year.
“I’m as fit as I have ever been. I have taken on an assistant coach role alongside Calum MacRae this year and it has been great to have the young guys coming in and trying to pass on my wisdom,” he continued
“Then I got offered the opportunity to come on board with the women’s programme and speaking to various people involved in the women’s game it is clear they have a lot of good things in place. It was a great opportunity for myself given my long off-season. I thought it was a really valuable way to start building my coaching CV so I can go into coaching full-time afterwards.”
“We [the Scotland men’s sevens team] moved back to Murrayfield as our training base on Monday. We’re in for the next two weeks then we’re away on 13th-14th May in Paris, and 20th-21st May in London. So I’ve got Saturday, Sunday and next Tuesday with the girls, then the following Saturday and Sunday we go down to Bisham Abbey for hit-outs against England and Wales, then on the Monday after the men’s team come back from Twickenham we’ll be in a week’s camp. We are also at London Rocks in early June.”
“It took a bit of planning but we’ve now got a schedule in place that works on paper – and I’m sure it will work in practice. The girls have a great attitude and really buy into things – I’ve spoken to Shade Munro [the women’s fifteens coach] and he ran through the players with me, and the big thing he said was that their enthusiasm is great. I can’t wait to get my teeth into it.”
The Scottish women’s sevens programme was cut back last summer so that the national fifteens team could focus on their World Cup qualification play-off matches against Spain. Munro’s team came up short in those back-to-back encounters last November, but made significant strides forward during the course of the season and ended up with two wins in the Six Nations for the first time since 2006.
Now Wight plans to turn the disappointment of missing out on this summer’s World Cup in Ireland into a blessing in disguise.
“In this off-season the sevens programme will develop the players and they will be fitter, perform skills under higher intensity and take that back to the fifteens game,” he promised. “The SRU have firmly backed the programme.”
Meanwhile, Sheila Begbie, head of women and girls rugby at Murrayfield, stated that Wight’s appointment was an important demonstration of the governing body’s commitment to developing the women’s game.
“It was really key to get someone of Scott’s stature. Having already worked with him over a brief period of time, I know he is a really dynamic young coach who knows what he wants and is well organised. I think the girls will be really motivated by having someone of Scott’s calibre working with them in the sevens programme,” she said.
“It is a really strong message from us that we are serious about taking this forward in the longer term – the Commonwealth Games and the World Series is something we want to aspire to.”
“We’ve increased the amount of Sevens we are doing in the programme because, as Scott has alluded to, in terms of skill development and fitness conditioning, it will improve the players for the fifteens game as well. So we’re working hard on all the different levels to progress.”
Wight has selected 20 players to attend this weekend’s training camp at Oriam high performance sports centre at Heriot Watt University’s Riccarton campus. Several key figures from Scotland’s recent Six Nations campaign will be in attendance, including Jade Konkel [Scotland’s only full-time women’s rugby player], Lisa Martin [national team captain], Chloe Rollie, Lisa Martin, Helen Nelson and Louise McMillan.
Dynamic centres Abi Evans and Hannah Smith, who were star performers for Hillhead/Jordanhill in their Sarah Beaney Cup Final success over Murrayfield Wanderers on Saturday, are also involved.
Sarah Bonar (Lichfield)
Abi Evans (Hillhead/Jordanhill)
Megan Gaffney (Edinburgh University)
Lauren Harris (Melrose)
Caitlin Harvey (Caithness / Royal High Cougars)
Jade Konkel (Hillhead/Jordanhill)
Rhona Lloyd (Edinburgh University)
Lisa Martin (Murrayfield Wanderers)
Jenny Maxwell (Lichfield)
Kirsty McConnell (Hillhead/Jordanhill)
Deborah McCormack (Aylesford Bulls)
Mairi McDonald (Hillhead/Jordanhill)
Louise McMillan (Hillhead/Jordanhill)
Liz Musgrove (Edinburgh University)
Helen Nelson (Murrayfield Wanderers)
Lyndsay O’Donnell (Worcester)
Chloe Rollie (Murrayfield Wanderers)
Eilidh Sinclair (Murrayfield Wanderers)
Hannah Smith (Hillhead/Jordanhill)
Lisa Thomson (Edinburgh University)