Scotland to lose IRB Sevens host role to France

By Alasdair LamontBBC Scotland
New Zealand celebrated winning the Glasgow Sevens with a Haka
New Zealand won the Glasgow Sevens last season

Scotland is to lose its role as a host nation of rugby union's international tournament, the Sevens World Series.

As of 2016, France is to be preferred as one of the nine countries on the circuit, BBC Scotland has discovered.

An official announcement is expected soon, but the Scottish Rugby Union learned of the news last week.

Scotstoun Stadium in Glasgow has been home to the Scottish leg of the IRB-run sevens, a prestigious global event, for the last three years.

Starting this year in Australia, teams travel all over the world, ending this time round in England.

But, when the IRB Sevens returns to Scotstoun in May, it will be for the last time until 2019 at the earliest because the Scottish bid has been overlooked in favour of one from Paris.

Colin Gregor scores a try for Scotland during the Glasgow Sevens
There were empty seats at Scotstoun this year even when Scotland were playing

Prior to being hosted at Scotstoun, the event was held at the home of Scotland's national team, Murrayfield Stadium in Edinburgh, for five years.

The move to the smaller, 15,000-capacity venue, where the hosts finished fourth as world champions New Zealand won in May, has attracted, on average over the three years, crowds of 26,000 for the two days' play.

However, the news of the failed Scottish bid comes only three months after Ibrox Stadium in Glasgow hosted 171,000 fans across four sessions of Commonwealth Games rugby sevens.

Organisers would not comment on the matter on Tuesday, nor would the Scottish Rugby Union, which has learned of the IRB's decision but has not yet received formal word of it.

However, the loss of this tournament would be a bitter pill for the SRU to swallow and not one it is likely to take without registering deep disappointment with the IRB.

Nonetheless, unless there is a drastic change of heart by rugby's governing body, it seems the feel-good factor around sevens in Glasgow will soon be a thing of the past.

Scotland is not the only country that will be dejected at the IRB's choice of host nations. Japan, where the 2019 Rugby World Cup will be staged, has lost its place on the sevens circuit to Singapore.