Sevens players welcome high profile attention

Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

They’ve experienced firsthand the frenzy around Sonny Bill Williams and some of this weekend’s visiting Sevens players say they’re happy to see more of it.

Much has been made of Williams’ trailblazing switch to the shorter form of Rugby as well as the signings of Wallabies Henry Speight, Nick Cummins and Quade Cooper to the Australian Sevens squad.

While it’s been hotly debated, Scotland’s captain Scott Riddell said it was a great thing for the game.

“I think it’s great for the profile of the game of Sevens, the players themselves have a great pedigree and it can only raise the profile of the Sevens and so it’s really positive,” he said.

It’s a sentiment with which his teammate Mark Robertson agrees.

“When people watch the sevens, they always really enjoy it,” he said.

“For me it’s a lot of the times more entertaining than the 15s because we’re generally doing it in good weather, the ball’s thrown about, there’s lots of tries, there’s normally a carnival atmosphere as well for the crowd as well.

“These guys, obviously the public really looks up to them, it’s great because it’s going to get more people watching the sport as the years go on and hopefully it’ll just grow and grow and grow.”

The England Sevens met some animals at Taronga Zoo on Tuesday. Photo: Karen Watson

Robertson and Riddell were joined by English players Ethan Waddleton and Harry Glover at Taronga Zoo on Tuesday, meeting some of the local animals.

While they were there as opponents, there’s a very real possibility that they will be teaming up alongside each other at the Rio Olympics.

England, Scotland and Wales all compete under the Great Britain banner in the Olympics, meaning three teams are condensed into one.

While that might make things muddy in the long-term, Robertson said they weren’t thinking that far ahead now.

“You can’t look to far forward with sevens because look too far forward you can make the mistake of forgetting the tournament,: he said.

“You’re here to play for your own country, especially if you’re drawn in the same group as one of those teams as well.

“You don’t want to be too nice to them.”

As for this weekend’s Sydney 7s, the prospect of another World Series sell-out is a tantalising prospect for the Scots.

“A full house really makes you raise your game and gets the boys a lot more excited for it as well,” Riddell said.

“They’ll really just look to put on a show which is a  great thing for the spectators and it’s an unbelievable feeling to run out in front of a noisy crowd.