Edinburgh Rugby supporters’ player of the year Roddy Grant has vowed to use Commonwealth Games heartbreak to spur him on to an elusive first 15-a-side cap.
The 27-year-old flanker was in the starting line-up when Scotland’s sevens bowed out with a 35-12 defeat by eventual champions South Africans at the quarter-finals.
However, Grant refused to be too downhearted, saying: “This is going to make me a better player. I’ve not played for Scotland and while I have played sevens in Hong Kong it has been rarely in front of so many people as we’ve had at Ibrox and certainly not with nearly them all behind our team and so loud as well. For sure this will spur me on.”
Scotland had shrugged off an opening defeat by New Zealand to beat Barbados then Canada and finish pool runners-up.
“Coming in to the second day there was real excitement, real confidence as with every game we played,” added Grant, pictured below. “We wanted a medal, but sevens is an emotional roller-coaster.”
Tries by an impressive Mark Bennett and Lee Jones on either side of half time closed the gap briefly after Scotland had fallen 0-21 behind.
Coach Steve Gemmell, who is now moving to another role in the SRU, admitted: “We didn’t learn the lessons of the New Zealand game.”
Nor did Scotland show that they had taken on board the need to be quicker into their stride in one subsequent outing against England to determine minor placings and the outcome of the Plate.
A possible fifth place overall was at stake, but Scotland fluffed their lines in falling 0-15 behind before tries by Bennett and Jones – his seventh of the tournament – put a better reflection on a 12-15 defeat.
“I hope Scotland Sevens can build from here as they now look to the 2014-15 HSBC Sevens World Series and the Glasgow sevens next May,” said Gemmell, who picked out Bennett, Jones and James Eddie for special mention.
“With a capacity crowd throughout the weekend, I’m sure the Commonwealth Games will do wonders for the short game in Scotland.”
The biggest question now facing Scottish sevens is whether the annual two-day jamboree as part of the annual IRB grand prix circuit can be retained – it is guaranteed next year only – in the face of stiff competition around the world, including Amsterdam and Vancouver.
Officials trumpeted a two-day attendance of more than 180,000 at Ibrox as a world record for a two-day sevens, but the event was split into four sessions with some spectators being counted twice on the same day.
Undoubtedly there will be serious thought given, also, to the heavy investment in sevens at a time of mounting pressure for a third professional team while the jury is out on the decision to draft established Six Nations stars after Stuart Hogg and Sean Lamont failed to start on day two and had to try to make an impact off the bench.
In the final, history was made as New Zealand, unbeaten in all matches at previous tournaments since sevens were introduced in 1998, lost 17-12 to South Africa in a result which perhaps left the vanquished Scots feeling slightly better.