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Dingwall athlete bidding for rugby sevens success at Commonwealth Games

By Andrew Henderson

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Former Dingwall Academy pupil Jacob Henry is hoping to come out of the Commonwealth Games with a medal – despite only making his rugby sevens debut earlier this year.

The Scotland Rugby Sevens squad has been announced. Picture: Craig Watson
The Scotland Rugby Sevens squad has been announced. Picture: Craig Watson

The 21-year-old saw his progress in Edinburgh’s system stifled by a serious Achilles injury, being limited to Super Six appearances when he returned to fitness.

However, an opportunity came up to try his hand at a different format, and he made his sevens debut in January of this year at a tournament in Spain.

Despite being one of the least experienced sevens players going to the Commonwealths, though, Henry has high hopes over what he can achieve.

“I’m really excited,” the ex-Ross Sutherland youth players said.

“I probably knew for a week and a bit before it was announced, it wasn’t too bad. I can’t really put it into words right now, I think it will only start to sink in when I’m there.

“We’re going in wanting a medal. We have to make sure we do all of the six-week build-up to make sure we have everything ready to go for those games.”

Scotland men’s sevens coach Ciaran Beattie knows all about Henry, having worked with him as he recovered from injury at Edinburgh.

In fact, if it was not for Beattie, Henry may never have given the format a go at all.

“I couldn’t have imagined how it would turn out at all, it’s crazy how things work,” Henry said.

“When I was injured, Ciaran Beattie was the one taking the academy at Edinburgh, so I was doing skills sessions with him when I couldn’t run.

“I got along with him then, and then he was the one who spoke to Edinburgh to ask me to train with the sevens if I didn’t have any games.

“He was the one who gave me the opportunity.

“I think if he wasn’t there, the sevens opportunity wouldn’t have come along.

“I wouldn’t have known to ask about it, so it was good.”

Although all his focus will be on sevens ahead of kick-off at the Coventry Stadium in two weeks’ time, Henry fully intends to return to 15s in the long run – and he believes a good showing later this month will only help in those ambitions.

“I want to focus on my 15s long term, but at the moment I’m really enjoying sevens,” he added.

“I think it suits me. When you’re playing 15s there’s a lot of transfer, so it’s good being under pressure all the time in a defensive line.

“In 15s, you get that once or twice, but I think it will be really good for me coming back to 15s.

“I really wanted to give it a shot to try and get to the Commonwealths. When it was said that was in their season, I thought that would be an awesome thing to do, so I focused on that.

“I think I’ve still got that tag of an academy player over my head. It doesn’t matter how old you are really, if you’re not playing professional rugby you still get seen as an academy player, so I think it’s good for me to break out of that.”

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