Possible loss of full-time Scotland Sevens concerns World Rugby

South Africa's Stephan Dippenaar is tackled by Damien Hoyland of Scotland
South Africa's Stephan Dippenaar is tackled by Damien Hoyland of Scotland
By Phil Goodlad, BBC Scotland at Scotstoun Stadium

World Rugby general manager Avan Lee has told BBC Scotland that a Sevens World Series without a Scottish team would be "a poorer competition".

Scottish Rugby say they will have to make a "tough decision" regarding their commitment to full-time sevens rugby if, as expected, Scotland loses the right to host a leg of the Series.

"Scotland have a couple of world-class sevens players," said Lee in Glasgow.

"So not to see them play would be disappointing."

Lee was speaking at Scotstoun Stadium, the venue for the Glasgow leg of the World Series, where on Sunday to move top of the standings in the competition. Scotland lost to South Africa in the Plate final.

He said World Rugby would announce Glasgow's fate "around the London tournament", the final leg of the Series to be held at Twickenham on 16 and 17 May.

HSBC Sevens World Series' nine rounds for 2014/15
Australia (Gold Coast), Dubai, South Africa (Port Elizabeth), New Zealand (Wellington), USA (Las Vegas), Hong Kong, Japan (Tokyo), Scotland (Glasgow, England (London).

BBC Scotland asked Scottish Rugby to comment about the loss of the Glasgow event but it declined the request.

However, last week director Dominic McKay said the decision to replace Scotland with Paris on the World Series circuit would have "disappointing consequences for revenue streams", prompting fears of a part-time future.

On the expected news that Scotland will no longer host a leg, Lee said: "I'm aware of the rumours and obviously cannot comment on those but it would be sad not to see Scotland take part, especially given that they're having their best season in the tournament.

"I can speak for rugby fans around the world - it would be very sad not to see Scotland on the circuit.

"Twenty-five countries around the world wanted to be on the circuit and Glasgow, Scotland were one of those.

"We've got to look at a lot of factors in terms of the sport, growing the sport, the commercial side of rugby in terms of the TV market, sponsorship, as well as the experience for the players.

Fiji captain Osea Kolinisau roars with delight after his team beat New Zealand in Glasgow
Fiji captain Osea Kolinisau roars with delight after his team beat New Zealand in Glasgow

"We have kept all (rugby) unions well briefed throughout the process. The announcement is being made soon and everyone will know who has made it and who hasn't."

Scottish Rugby will announce details of its sevens set-up on Thursday.

The team's head coach, Calum MacRae, is preparing for next season nonetheless.

Scotland head coach Calum MacRae
Scotland head coach Calum MacRae is going ahead with plans for next season

He said: "The players are aware of the talk going on (in the media) but ultimately no decision has yet been made on the programme going forward.

"We are looking ahead to our pre-season next season. Planning has been done for that."

Lee feels it would be "an unfair association" for Scottish Rugby to link any move to make the team part-time with the loss of the Glasgow leg.

He cites Fiji, Kenya and Samoa as teams who do not have a home leg of the Series but who have a "very viable sevens programme".

"It would be hugely disappointing," he said of the loss of a full-time team.

"You have some outstanding players like Mark Robertson and Colin Gregor that are in the mix for a spot in (the) Rio (Olympics) next year.

"And if they weren't able to play sevens for their country I'm not sure they would be available for Great Britain next year and that would be pretty sad.

"We realise it costs money to run a team but the structure of the World Series is that the tournaments pay for all of the flights, accommodation and the food.

"Our role is to look at the global game and do the right thing by all the teams.

"I really hope that Scotland are on the circuit next year. I really hope that the Scottish Union take a long hard look at their programme and come up with the right decision."

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