Scotland have followed South Africa in establishing full time professional contracts for a select number of Sevens players. Scotlands move will draw inevitable comparisons with South Africas fully-contracted squad of Sevens players, and with plans afoot to do a similar thing in the USA, but Gemmell is adamant that he must do what is best for Scotland.
The Scottish Rugby Union has taken the initial step of awarding contracts to experienced trio Scott Forrest (captain), Colin Shaw and Mike Adamson. All three will continue to train with Glasgow Warriors, but with a tailored strength, conditioning and skills programme to suit the demands of the shortened game.
National Academy Manager and Scotland Sevens Head coach, Stephen Gemmell said: (quote) Importantly for the contracted individuals, they are still getting the opportunity to promote themselves into the professional game. Sevens contracts give them the best opportunity to continue to develop as rugby players while supporting the National Academy players who are out of age-grade rugby and the professional players that come into the squad. We cannot follow a model that other countries use. We have to create a model that best fits what we have in Scotland because we need to give our talented individuals the best opportunity to promote themselves in the professional environment and beyond. International Sevens definitely provides that opportunity for us in Scotland.
Between them, Forrest, Adamson and Shaw have notched an impressive 500 points in 61 Sevens tournaments for Scotland and will form the backbone of future squads as they look to build on the back-to-back Cup semi finals reached at the London and Edinburgh legs of the IRB Sevens World Series.
Shaw, who made his Scotland Sevens début in 2006 said: (quote) The power and pace of sevens has completely changed over the last few years, especially in the season just passed, so it is great that the Scotland Sevens team will be getting some full-time core players as this will bring a level of consistency to the squad, I am often asked about the sevens by my team-mates at Glasgow and I would honestly recommend it to anybody in any position to play sevens because it has an awful lot to offer all positions in 15-a-side rugby. It increases your fitness, your skill level, your spatial awareness and your defence has to be better because you are always one on one in a bigger area. Stevie Gemmell is fully aware of and backs my intention to start and be involved in as many games as possible for Glasgow and make my way in the 15s game and though I have won a Sevens contract I see it as a way of getting the best of both worlds. In fact, since the season started with Glasgow, I’ve found a bit of form. (end quote)
Shaws first opportunity to impress for Scotland will come in Dubai on 4-5 December 2009 before travelling to South Africa, New Zealand, USA, Australia, Hong Kong, London and Edinburgh on the final weekend of the 2009/10 Series on 29-30 May.