Scotland Sevens head coach John Dalziel has backed Jamie Farndale and Robbie Fergusson to lead by example this season after he named them co-captains of the squad for the 2018/19 World Series campaign.
It was fitting that Dalziel and his players were at ‘the home of sevens’ in Melrose training on Thursday when the 17 core players who will represent Scotland all over the globe in 10 tournaments from November until June were revealed.
As part of Scotland’s largest ever core squad, Glenn Bryce and Ally Miller come into the programme full-time, both having played on the World Series last year during their time with Edinburgh.
Alec Coombes, Harvey Elms, Ross McCann, Max McFarland and Sam Pecqueur all made their debuts on the World Series last season, earning core contracts this year through their impressive displays.
Nyle Godsmark is another player who has become essential to Dalziel’s squad. He will spend the coming season exclusively with the sevens having shared time with Melrose last year.
Kyle Steyn will join up soon once his Griquas commitments are over while Mungo Mason is joined by fellow uncapped player Josh Henderson in the party.
Former captain Scott Riddell will embark on his tenth season with the programme. During the coming season the 32-year old will continue to be available for selection, but alongside this will begin preparations for life after rugby by continuing to work within the Scottish Rugby coach development team.
He has passed the armband - or should that be armbands - onto Farndale and Fergusson.
It would be fair enough to say that 24-year-old Farndale has become almost indispensable to Scotland in this format since he made his debut at the end of 2014/15.
The man who can play wing or in the forwards has now clocked up 31 consecutive World Series tournaments and the blend with him and Fergusson seems a good one.
Fergusson, who has just turned 25, joined the core squad at the start of last season and the playmaker has come on leaps and bounds since then.
Dalziel said: “I have worked with Jamie and Robbie over several seasons at age-grade level and with the sevens.
“Both have shown many outstanding leadership qualities in the way they operate on and off the field as astute professional athletes.
“Given the robust nature of sevens, I feel it is key to have co-captains who can work together supporting each other, the team and the coaches throughout the season.”
Edinburgh lad Farndale said: “I am chuffed. I have played under Colin Gregor, Scott Wight and Scott Riddell and it is an honour to now be leading that with Robbie.
“The sevens is all about a whole squad, everyone has a leadership role and our aim is just to get them all on the same page and share things around.
“That is 31 World Series tournaments in a row now. I have only missed a couple of games here and there, so credit to the S & C coaches and the physios.
“I came in when Colin Gregor was captain and that was the year that the squad got cut down to seven core contracts and I managed to get one of those.
“That was a big shift, the start of a new cycle in the sevens programme if you like so it has been great to be in from the start of that.
“Myself and Robbie were eased into captaincy roles last year and then John called us on Wednesday and told us we had got it.”
Fergusson, who played most of his club rugby with Ayr and has also turned out for London Scottish down south, battled cancer successfully back in 2014.
That hellish seven months may have floored other characters, but he seems to have used it to motivate him and he said: “It has been a rollercoaster since then. I never thought I’d go to the sevens World Cup, never thought I’d be on the World Series and I am just enjoying the ride at the minute and things just keep snowballing and getting better.
“To be named captain alongside someone like Jamie is amazing and we will both do our best to really lead this talented squad well.
“Co-captaincy is so common now and I think it is a really good thing, we compliment each other quite well. Jamie has obviously been around the seven circuit a long time and is well known by everyone around the world of sevens, he is a figurehead for Scotland Sevens.
“And for myself leadership kind of comes from my position a bit because as a half back you have to lead out there on the pitch and with it being co-captaincy it means we can lean on each other and work together.
Core Scotland Sevens squad for the 2018/19 World Series (World Series caps in brackets):
Glenn Bryce (16)
Alec Coombes (4)
Jack Cuthbert (9)
Harvey Elms (7)
Jamie Farndale (31) co-captain
Robbie Fergusson (9) co-captain
Nyle Godsmark (16)
Josh Henderson (0)
Gavin Lowe (24)
Mungo Mason (0)
Ross McCann (4)
Max McFarland (10)
Ally Miller (9)
Jo Nayacavou (36)
Sam Pecqueur (1)
Scott Riddell (67)
Kyle Steyn (2)