Spain Sevens all set for Series challenge
As sporting baptisms go, Spain's is poker-hot on this season's HSBC Sevens World Series.
The Spaniards won core team status for the new season earlier this year in Hong Kong, and their reward is a pool draw on the Gold Coast against England, Samoa and Kenya.
The tournament, to be played at Skilled Park on 13-14 October, will test all of their new-found professionalism and verve, but they are thrilled at the challenge that awaits them.
"Training and preparation has changed drastically from last season," said head coach Igancio Inchausti.
"But since we obtained the passport to enter the World Series as a core team, we have managed to get our first 12 full time professional players, which helps in that preparation for our upcoming challenges this season.
"All the rounds are going to be very special for us because it is our first time as a core team."
Last season the Spanish side finished 14th overall on the World Series, collecting 19 points in the process from just three tournaments.
In Hong Kong they came second behind Canada in the core team qualification tournament, and ended the season in Glasgow and London with a Bowl final and Cup quarter final respectively. Interestingly, the 17 points garnered from the final two rounds was more than core sides France, Scotland, USA and the Kenyans.
The greater consistency in their game has come from additional time spent together at the country's Olympic training facilities in Madrid, which itself has been a result of the sport entering its first Olympic cycle.
As the man in charge, Inchausti has a rich history with Spanish rugby. He was part of their only ever appearance at a Rugby World Cup, as a player in 1999, and also played at the Rugby World Cup Sevens in 2001 in Mar del Plata.
Like his French counterpart Frederic Pomarel, he was in charge of the nation's women's set-up before coaching the men's side, including leading them to the inaugural women's RWC Sevens in Dubai in 2009.
A year later in 2010 'Tiki', as he is affectionately known, was handed the task of coaching the Spanish Sevens men's team and two years on he masterminded their qualification as a core team.
This summer Spain also qualified for next year's RWC Sevens in the Russian capital Moscow and with the success so far, the coach is excited by the challenges and opportunities ahead, not least the 2016 Olympic Games.
"Playing for Spain Sevens is gradually becoming the ultimate goal now for many young Spanish players, and this is helping us develop and match our future goals, and it helps with our motivation too," he said.
"We need to go step by step, to remain as a core team, but a great challenge for us is also to be at the Olympics. We need to focus on getting there first and all the things beforehand, before we think about medals."