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Wight: "Rwanda have big hopes for rugby sevens"

At the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, a unique partnership was formed that gave rugby sevens a real chance to grow in the east African country of Rwanda.


Through the Scottish government’s "Support a Second Team" initiative, local councils were urged to pick a Commonwealth country to engage and development links with. East Lothian, a Scottish council east of Edinburgh, chose to partner with Rwanda and since then a strong bond has been forged.

Following the partnership back in 2014, Scottish Rugby engaged with a request from East Lothian and the Rwanada Olympic Committee to help bolster their sevens programme. This involved current Scotland sevens star Scott Wight heading out to Rwanda back in late September of this year to help run sevens workshops for budding stars.

"It’s all about trying to grow the grassroots of the game in Rwanda, there are some talented players but the coaching isn’t necessarily where it needs to be to help grow the sport," said Wight. "I went out pretty open eyed. I had no idea what to expect. Didn’t know how many players there would be or age range. I thought as long as 80 kids don’t turn up then that’s OK as it’s tricky to coach large numbers. However it was OK because they were pretty smart about the age range focusing mostly on their U19 players. They also invited four of their more experienced coaches along to watch, and they ended up getting involved in the rugby.

"The standard was better than I expected. They have 10 teams in their league which is great. In terms of the rules, they were not up to speed but we did some learning workshops as well as some high intensity sevens drills and you could see the improvement over the week. By the end of it they were moving the ball really well to space."

While Rwanda may not benefit yet from a fully fledged sevens progamme compared to teams on the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series, their long term plan according to Wight is to focus on the Commonwealth Games 2022 in Durban, with steps already being taken to get the players up to speed by then. On one of their borders sits Uganda, who won the Africa Sevens and as a result now find themselves on the first two rounds of the world series, and in the eyes of Wight could provide a decent template for Rwanda’s growth going forward.

"Uganda are a good example of the opportunities available on the world series," he said. "They are able to play world class opposition and help improve their game. The issue in Rwanda is they play one tournament a year but they need more sevens and a stronger club environment. Once they get to play more competitions it will naturally increase the standard."

Jimirasre

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