It’s not often that Rwanda hosts rugby professionals, but Scott Wight, who captained the Scots to their first ever World Sevens Series title in London Sevens final at Twickenham in May, is in Rwanda on a six-day trip made possible by the East Lothian Council and Scottish Rugby to “lend some knowledge” to the Rwandan Rugby.
Sunday Sport’s Stephen Kalimba had a one-on-one with the Glasgow Warriors RFC fly-half, 30 and below are the excerpts.
Tell us about your trip in East Africa
I arrived last Tuesday in Kenya with Samurai (rugby club) and we played at the Safari 7s, it is a very busy city, traffic is pretty hard, unfortunately we got beaten by Kenya Shujaa in the final.
We only got together on Tuesday, the team had seven Scots, three Kenyans and 2 Spaniards, it’s hard to put together a team in just a week, and it was very good to meet some new people through rugby, I arrived in Rwanda this week, its pleasant here, people seem happy and excited about this.
What do you have to say about this program by the East Lothian county and Scottish Rugby to develop rugby sevens in Rwanda?
I’m still part of the Scotland team that plays in the World Series , this is the down time season for us, we have just started pre-season, I don’t really know what to expect because I didn’t know the numbers I would be coaching so I hadn’t plan a lot.
I’m happy with the facility you have here, the grass at the stadium is excellent and it’s a great opportunity for me to pass on my knowledge and for the young players to learn.
What has it been like playing rugby sevens, considering it’s one of the most growing sports in the world and is it getting recognition?
I would say it’s one of if not one of the most growing sport in the world at the moment, I was fortunate enough to grow up at Melrose. Melrose is where sevens was invented in 1883, I have had massive history of rugby in my family, my dad was the president at Melrose and my dad played there.
I’ve come in and followed in their footsteps as well, I was fortunate enough to go professional at the age of 25, I joined the Glasgow Warriors, and this is my third season with Scotland, I was part of Team Scotland at the 2014 Commonwealth Games and I’m really looking forward to Dubai in December.
We won the last international tournament at Twickenham in May, the IRB Tournament before the World Cup; we have managed to keep a hold of the majority of the squad, in Scotland and looking forward to the Dubai Sevens in December.
Why should Rwanda opt for Sevens ahead of Fifteens?
You need less people for a squad for starters; there are more chances of finding seven good players than 15 really good players. I think it’s also a nice format for younger players to be involved in because there’s small numbers, lots of passing and individual play.
And I also think now there’s more opportunity with sevens being in the Commonwealth Games an Olympic sport in 2018, there’s gonna be the Sevens World Cup as well. The opportunities in sevens are greater.
What can be done to get around the size difference for the Rwandan players?
You have to start with grassroots rugby, starting with kids in primary schools giving them the opportunity to develop and if there’s more seven aside tournaments giving people more exposure to the game, I think that’s what kids need to play a standard to develop and that’s the only way they can develop when put in game situations.
How do you think players can be retained in the game, because there’s always a new batch of players for the clubs and the national team?
You have to make it fun for them to come back, they have got to enjoy it, they won’t come back if they are not enjoying it. Coaches have to give the right material, but it comes back to playing games every week, the coaches have to enjoy it too.
There’s got to be a structure an actual proper season, for the different age groups, the seniors, the under 15s and the under 21s, I don’t know how you do it here but hopefully I will know by the end of mission here.
You have worked with the local players for a couple of days, what is your assessment of them so far?
For me, it’s still a basic structure and detail in the game they probably don’t understand, which probably comes back to the level they have played at. I have enjoyed the willingness to learn and their energy.
What have been your best moments playing sevens rugby?
Probably as an amateur, like I said, Melrose was very special for me; amazing people came to the Sevens, lots of internationals. When I was a ball boy in primary 7, one day I said I want to run out onto that pitch.
In 2010 I was lucky to captain the team and we actually won the home tournament, and I was an amateur. And we won at London Sevens final at Twickenham in the World Series—I think those are the two best memories that stand out for me.