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It has been a busy nine months or so for Merchiston Castle former pupil Matt Davidson - and it is about to get busier and even more exciting as he competes for Team Scotland at the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games.

The 22-year-old from Ayrshire, who was at the school for his final two years between 2015 and 2017, has been named in the men’s 13-strong rugby sevens squad for the showpiece event. Paddy Kelly, another former pupil who is 26, is also in the squad.

Matt’s selection by head coach Ciaran Beattie comes off the back of accomplished displays on the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series during the 2022 campaign.

The Games, a massive multi-sport event, takes place between July 28 and August 8 in England with the rugby sevens for men and women being held between July 29 and 31 at the Coventry Stadium.

Matt Davidson, former pupil makes his debut for Team Scotland at Birmingham 2022.

Photo credit: Team Scotland

Scotland will have men’s and women’s squads there and Matt and the men have been drawn in Pool B alongside South Africa, Tonga and Malaysia.

“I am really excited about going to a Commonwealth Games as part of Team Scotland and it caps off what has been a really exciting few months for me,” Matt, a former Scotland under-20 cap in XVs, said.

“When the call came offering me a place in the core sevens squad ahead of the World Sevens Series late last year I probably wasn’t expecting it if I am honest, but it has been a brilliant time since then.

“Due to the pandemic and the fact that a lot of us were new to high level sevens at the time it was a big learning curve early on and the first two events for us as a group in Spain in January were all about trying to click as a squad and getting to know each other better.

“We all just jumped into it and since then performances and results have improved.

“In terms of my position in sevens, I have been playing mainly as a halfback and I have been working hard on my contextual awareness. I have been thinking hard about how to manage a game and how to set our really fast players into space. Defences are so quick and up in your face that in my position you really have to make decisions in a split second out there on the pitch.

“I have got used to that now and looking back on the run of tournaments we have had since January I think that we are feeling really positive going into the Commonwealth Games.

“We have been on an upward curve and the last two World Sevens Series tournaments in Toulouse and London were good for us, we are feeling in good shape.”

Matt Davidson, former pupil makes his debut for Team Scotland at Birmingham 2022.

Photo credit: Team Scotland

So, how did Matt end up where he is now on his rugby journey?

“I came through the age-grades at the Ayr club after starting there as a child and from then on I have loved rugby,” he explains.

“Heading through to Edinburgh and studying and playing rugby at Merchiston for two years came next and I was so glad I did that, I absolutely loved my time there.

“Since leaving school I have played for the Ayr at senior level, had a spell at London Scottish down south and played for the Ayrshire Bulls in the FOSROC Super6 competition.

“Then the sevens opportunity came and I jumped at the chance. It has been a bit of a whirlwind few months, but all focus is now on the Games and with them being held quite close to home it will be great to have friends and family down there watching me.”

Ahead of the Commonwealth Games Ciaran Beattie, the aforementioned head coach of the men’s sevens squad, said: “This is the culmination of a great deal of hard work over the past few years and I know how excited the squad is at the prospect of competing on such a grand stage.”

Team Scotland men’s sevens squad for Birmingham 2022: Jamie Farndale (captain), Alec Coombes, Ross McCann, Grant Hughes, Paddy Kelly, Kaleem Barreto, Robbie Fergusson, Matt Davidson, Harvey Elms, Lee Jones, Jordan Edmunds, Femi Sofolarin, Jacob Henry.

 

By Gary Heatly

Twitter: @G_HMedia

Gary Heatly