Scotland and Wales declare hands for Glasgow
Hosts Scotland and neighbouring Wales have both named their squads for the eighth round of the HSBC Sevens World Series, the Emirates Airline Glasgow Sevens on 4-5 May.
The Scots recall twice-capped scrum-half Alex Glashan, Glasgow Warrior Byron McGuigan and Edinburgh Rugby’s Lee Jones, while Wales coach Paul John includes Tavis Knoyle and Owen Williams.
While Wales sit in seventh place in the Series standings having reached the Cup final in Hong Kong, Scotland are scrapping to avoid relegation.
At the Marriott London Sevens at Twickenham on 11-12 May the core teams ranked 13th, 14th and 15th after Glasgow will play off for three available core team places next season with Asian champions Hong Kong, Russia, Zimbabwe, Tonga and Georgia.
Currently Scotland are tied in joint-12th place with USA, meaning that in the most likely scenario the two nations are battling to out-perform each other in Glasgow and safeguard their core team status for 2013/14.
"This week, from a preparation point of view, has been good with the extra players because it has meant we have done a lot of seven on seven practice, which has been invaluable," said Scotland coach, Steven Gemmell. "It has also meant added competition for places, which has kept everyone on their toes.
"In the 12, we have named an established group of players who have played regularly on the circuit for a number of years now. Andrew Turnbull, Colin Gregor, Scott Riddell, Struan Dewar, Colin Shaw and Michael Fedo. Also John Houston, who has recently come on board, is in a much better place with sevens now becoming a full-time member of the squad.
“On top of this, Lee Jones and Byron McGuigan, who both made their name in Scotland through sevens, give us experience and ability from our senior international team and a successful Glasgow Warriors squad, respectively."
For Wales, Williams has experience of playing Sevens having figured prominently last season, but Knoyle is a complete novice. However, coach Paul John has no qualms about throwing the Gloucester-bound scrum-half into the deep end along with Scarlets teammate Adam Warren.
“They [Knoyle and Warren] may be considered surprises as they are new, but they have trained well within the environment and it’s exciting to have them in the squad. Hopefully they will enjoy the experience and bring something new to the squad,” said John.
In the absence of flyers Cory Allen and Alex Webber, Gareth Davies and Tom Grabham will make their first appearance of this campaign.
“We’re grateful to the regions for allowing us to use the players and with this weekend’s tournament and next week’s event in Twickenham considered ‘home’ tournaments, we’ve taken advantage of players becoming available.
"It’s a difficult group. We’ve got France who are just two places above us, USA who are fighting for survival and Russia who have a massive tournament the week after. It may look promising on paper but we know it’s going to be very difficult. All teams in our group have lots to play for. Hopefully we can get out of the group but it’s going to take a massive effort."
Scotland: Chris Dean, Struan Dewar, Michael Fedo, Alex Glashan, Colin Gregor (captain), John Houston, Lee Jones, Michael Maltman, Byron McGuigan, Scott Riddell, Colin Shaw, Andrew Turnbull
Wales: Craig Price, Adam Thomas. Rhys Shellard, Tavis Knoyle, James Davies, Lee Williams, Alex Walker, Gareth Davies, Adam Warren, Tom Grabham, Owen Williams, Chris Knight.