Scotland head coach Calum MacRae has challenged his players to build on the high standards they have set after beating old enemies England to retain their London Sevens title at Twickenham.
Scotland won their first-ever HSBC World Rugby Seven Series event when they surprisingly lifted the crown last year, and 12 months on they repeated the trick to become back-to-back champions.
MacRae’s troops reached the showpiece after downing New Zealand and USA on day two in south-west London – recording a first-ever victory over the Kiwis in the quarter-finals by coming from 21-0 down at half-time to win 24-21.
The Americans were dispatched 21-14 in the Cup semi-final as Joe Nayacavou crossed with the final play of the game to set up a mouth-watering showdown with hosts England.
Dan Norton checked in from the left to beat four defenders and side-stepped the final man to give the Red Rose a 7-0 lead but Scotland – who featured Team GB star Mark Robertson in their ranks – responded as Hugh Blake dotted down before a series of deft offloads put captain Scott Riddell over in the corner for a 12-7 win.
And after his last tournament as coach before joining the Edinburgh Rugby set-up, MacRae couldn’t hide his delight at his troops’ display.
“I'm proud of the players and I'm proud of the staff,” he said. “Going back to back here is a huge achievement.
“A lot of people have put a lot of effort into this programme and it's nice for everyone to get the rewards for that.
“Beating New Zealand in the manner that we did and our second-half performance in the final were extremely pleasing.
"If you're a hard team to beat you're always going to have an opportunity to win, especially with the firepower we have in attack. We know we can score tries but this Cup was won by the way we defended
“The big challenge for this team now is to maintain the high standards they have set.”
England had reached the final by beating overall Series champions South Africa 17-12 in the quarter-finals and ruthlessly dispatching Canada 24-5 in the last-four.
Despite the final loss, their performances over the weekend at Twickenham guaranteed second spot in the overall standings – the team’s highest finish since 2006 – and coach Simon Amor couldn’t fault his side.
“It was always going to be a close-run game, it always is against Scotland,” explained Amor.
“They took their chances and we couldn’t really get our game going in that second half.
“I’m so delighted with effort of the boys – they’ve been tremendous all weekend. That’s what a team is about, heart, character and resilience but you can’t take anything away from Scotland, they were brilliant.
“I’ve been really pleased with our consistency to always be there or thereabouts this season.
“To get second is ahead of what we expected. We talked about top three so have gone one better, won three tournaments and also discovered some new young guys which bodes well for the future.”