Sevens legend Turnbull backs Riddell and Robertson for Rio

Scotland Sevens legend Andrew Turnbull is hopeful that his former team mates Scott Riddell and Mark Robertson have done enough to force their way into the Team GB squad for Rio.

By The Newsroom
Saturday, 16th July 2016, 5:30 am
Scott Riddell has impressed for Scotland on the Sevens circuit this year. Pic: SNS
Scott Riddell has impressed for Scotland on the Sevens circuit this year. Pic: SNS

Former Stewart’s Melville man Riddell and Robertson, who had a stint at Edinburgh Rugby for four years, are among seven Scots still in the mix for Olympic selection with the final squad revealed on Tuesday.

Jamie Farndale, Mark Bennett, Gavin Lowe, Lee Jones and Joseva Nayacavou make up the group of Scots who have been involved in the wider training squad this summer along with English and Welsh players.

Currently all seven are involved with the GB Royals and the GB Lions in the third and final leg of the Rugby Europe Sevens Grand Prix Series at the National Rugby Stadium in Gdynia, Poland.

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It is their last chance to impress head coach Simon Amor before he names the 12 who will travel to Brazil next month.

Turnbull, the 34-year-old from Edinburgh, brought down the curtain on a glittering career in the abbreviated game last year.

The former Watsonians winger played in 57 World Series events, scoring 151 tries in the process and that left him eighth on the all-time try scorers list. He also represented Scotland at three sevens World Cups in 2005, 2009 and 2013 and in the Commonwealth Games in 2006 and 2010.

Turnbull used to play with Riddell, 30, and Robertson, 31, regularly and he has his fingers crossed that they will be picked.

“It has been great to see so many Scots involved in the wider sevens training squad with GB and I was especially pleased to see Scott and Mark in there,” Turnbull, who is now a PE teacher, said.

“I played a lot of rugby with them and they are both great team guys who give great 
leadership and bring a lot of qualities to any squad they are part of.

“Both of them have played a lot of sevens for Scotland and they have seen the highs and the lows, but the way that they have upped their respective games since the Commonwealth Games two years ago shows how much they want a shot at the Olympics.

“From what I have seen and heard they have both been doing well in the recent warm-up events while they are also positive characters who spur on their team mates so I am hoping that I will be watching them on television next month.

“In May I was so chuffed for them and the other Scotland guys who won the Twickenham event on the World Series circuit.

“I tried for years to win one of those events and could not manage it and it shows how well the Scottish players are doing just now.

“As a result I am sure the seven guys who have been involved in the wider GB squad will have headed into camp with confidence to try and make their mark and the warm-up events will have given them a good chance to show Amor and the other coaches what they are capable of up close.

“Jamie Farndale has also been very impressive in the last six months and it will be interesting to see whether he gets the nod to travel or not.”

Turnbull mentions Farndale, 22, and he was named the Scotland Sevens player of the season for 2015/16.

As a young XV-a-side player Farndale made his name as a winger with Edinburgh Academy and Edinburgh Accies.

He struggled to make the breakthrough into the Edinburgh matchday squad in 2014/15, but was handed a Scotland Sevens debut in the final event of that season and has never looked back.

Farndale, who recovered from an injury scare to play in Exeter last week, said: “There are some brilliant sevens 
exponents in the training group with some great XVs players so I am just giving it everything I have and seeing where it takes me.

“There was a lot to learn when I first came into the sevens environment, especially moving into the forwards, but I have loved every minute of it.”

Meanwhile, the women’s squad is also named on Tuesday and Steph Johnston is the one Scot still in the mix to be involved.