GALASHIELS-born former Scotland centre Graham Shiel has ended his opening stint as Scotland sevens coach on a high.
After putting in some impressive displays in the Dubai 7s tournament a fortnight ago, the Scots arrived in South Africa determined to build on those performances in the second leg of the global series.
Shiel replaced Stephen Gemmell as head coach in October and last weekend saw his team lift their first trophy of the 2010/11 HSBC Sevens World Series with a convincing 26-0 win over Russia in the Bowl final.
The former Melrose and Border Reivers player, who won 18 caps for Scotland, was quick to praise his squad of young players, which includes Selkirk flyer Fraser Harkness in its ranks: “This group has raised the bar every time they’ve had the chance,” he said. “It’s been a fantastic experience to work with them. They pushed themselves very hard, created real unity and pulled it all together.
“They really have been exceptional and have met every challenge head on.”
Scotland got their South Africa campaign off to a good start with a win over France (21-12), but were ultimately undone after suffering defeats at the hands of Wales (19-7) and finalists Australia (21-7), to finish third in the pool.
While improvements made by the young side were evident once more, the overriding feeling in the camp was one of disappointment at not getting a second day-one win – that disappointment turned into day-two determination as the Scots took on the Bowl.
Three successive wins over Namibia (14-5), Portugal (14-10) and Russia secured the silverware and four series points.
After the opening two tournaments, the eight-event HSBC Sevens World Series will break until February before moving on to New Zealand, USA, Hong Kong, Australia, England and Scotland, climaxing at Murrayfield on May 28-29.