Graham, Jones and Godsmark among Scotland 7s Commonwealth squad

Nyle Godsmark of Melrose
Nyle Godsmark of Melrose

Commonwealth Games Scotland has announced the final 13 athletes from the sport of Rugby Sevens to be selected for next month’s 2018 Commonwealth Games, bringing the final Team Scotland line-up to 224.

Head coach John Dalziel, fornerly of Melrose, named an experienced 13-man Rugby Sevens squad – including several Borders players – to compete at Gold Coast 2018 as part of Team Scotland.

The squad will depart for Hong Kong next week to compete in the seventh leg of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series (April 6-8) before travelling to the Gold Coast to compete in the 21st instalment of the quadrennial multi-sport event.

The Scots will face Papua New Guinea, Malaysia and South Africa in Pool A at the Robina Stadium on April 14, from which the top-ranked team will advance to the semi-finals for a chance to take home a medal.

John Dalziel, said: “Selection has been very tough, given the talent and depth of players we have in Scotland. The challenge for this group will be how well we can come together over the next few days and weeks, to give ourselves the best opportunity to be competitive for Team Scotland at the Gold Coast Games.”

He added: “To represent Team Scotland in a Commonwealth Games is a huge honour for everyone involved and I’d like to thank Glasgow Warriors and Edinburgh Rugby for their continued support, insuring we have assembled our country’s leading sevens exponents.

“It is great to welcome back some of Scotland’s leading talent, who have previously represented Scotland 7s and have developed into top 15-a-side players and combine them with our elite, core-sevens players, who have been competing on the World Series.”

The 13-man squad is made up of seven core Scotland 7s squad players – captain Scott Riddell, Jamie Farndale, James Fleming, Nyle Godsmark (Melrose), Gavin Lowe, Max McFarland and Joe Nayacavou – supplemented by two from Edinburgh Rugby players – Glenn Bryce and former Hawick ace Darcy Graham – and four representatives from Glasgow Warriors, Matt Fagerson, George Horne, Ruaridh Jackson and Lee Jones (Selkirk).

The squad features six players who have tasted World Rugby Sevens Series success, winning the London Cup in recent years, with five featuring in both 2016 and 2017 (Bryce, Riddell, Farndale and Fleming), while Horne and Nayacavou featured in the most recent triumph last year.

Captain Riddell – Scotland’s most capped sevens player in history – and Lee Jones are among the most experienced sevens exponents in the group and approach their third Commonwealth Games, having featured in both Delhi 2010 and Glasgow 2014.

Farndale has also enjoyed Commonwealth Games experience, captaining the side at the 2011 Commonwealth Youth Games in the Isle of Man.

Experience permeates further down the squad with Fleming, Nayacavou and Farndale ranked fifth, seventh and ninth on Scotland 7s’ all-time appearance chart, Fleming – the team’s second-top try-scorer of all time – contributing 112 World Series tries to date.

Jackson and Jones also both bring experience of the 15-a-side set-up, with 32 and seven senior Test caps for their country respectively.

Like Riddell and Farndale, Gavin Lowe – this season’s Scotland 7s top point scorer – was part of the wider Team GB squad preparing for the Rio Games.

He is joined promising prospects Matt Fagerson and Darcy Graham, the latter making an instant impact on the opening tournaments of the season, scoring eight tries to be named in the Dubai 7s team of the tournament.

Both Fagerson and Graham were part of the Scotland U20 side that reached a record-equaling fifth place in last year’s World Rugby U20 championship.

Graham and fellow flier Max McFarland are currently Scotland 7s’ join top try-scorers this season, with 15 a-piece.

The squad is completed by Nyle Godsmark, whose selection for the Games sees him return to the site of his Scotland 7s debut on the Sevens World Series in 2014.

He went on to captain of the Scottish Thistles on the 2014 GB7s circuit, before becoming part of the Scotland 7s core squad and featuring in 60 on the World Series matches to date.

Congratulating the squad, Jon Doig, Team Scotland Chef de Mission said: “Congratulations to all those players selected, both new and returning. The Rugby Sevens team has contributed so much to support the wider ‘One Team Scotland’ ethos since first competing in 2002.

“They have had some great results in the World Series since the last Games in 2014 and with their competition on the last two days of the Games. We look forward to the whole team cheering them on, to help Team Scotland finish the Games on a real high.”

Scotland Rugby Sevens squad for the 2018 Commonwealth Games, Gold Coast: Glenn Bryce, Matt Fagerson, Jamie Farndale, James Fleming, Nyle Godsmark, Darcy Graham, George Horne, Ruaridh Jackson, Lee Jones, Gavin Lowe, Max McFarland, Joe Nayacavou, Scott Riddell.

Scotland Rugby Sevens fixtures, Robina Stadium, Pool ‘A’ – Saturday April 14: Scotland v Papua New Guinea (am), Scotland v Malaysia, South Africa v Scotland (both pm).

Classification, semi-finals and finals: Sunday, April 15.

The teams ranked third and fourth in each pool are eliminated from the competition. The second ranked teams from each pool advance to classification rounds to determine placings for fifth-eighth in the competition. The top ranked team from each pool advance to the semi-finals.