• Text size      
  • Send this article to a friend
  • Print this article

Rugby 7s: Lamont happy to be a man in demand

Sean Lamont is going back to where he first started and he couldn't be more delighted  Photograph: SNS
Sean Lamont is going back to where he first started and he couldn't be more delighted Photograph: SNS

E VERY international sportsman has that one special day; the point where they go from being a nobody to a somebody in demand. For the lucky few, it comes early, while they are still teenagers. Others have to wait and hope they don't end up waiting forever.

For Sean Lamont that day came in Manchester in the late summer of 2002. Then sporting a mop of startling bleached blond hair, it really was a case of "Sean who?" when he was picked for the Scotland seven-a-side team as the Commonwealth Games ran only its second tournament in the abbreviated version of rugby.

By the time he walked off the pitch a final-match winner 30 hours later - albeit only in the lowly Bowl event, which in effect meant they were ninth from 16 - he was a hot property. A professional contract with Northampton followed, as did Scotland caps and a career that has taken him all round the world.

Now, he is back. Again it is sevens, again in Britain, though this time it will be an even more emotional home event in Glasgow, where he lives and plays his rugby for the Warriors, and just as it was all those years ago, New Zealand and Canada are the main early-stage obstacles in the medal hunt.

Lamont, however, is a very different beast. He's gone from lanky to muscular, raw to an 86-cap veteran, naive to the voice of experience. What has not changed is the naked enthusiasm and passion. "I've always wanted to do another Commie Games. I've always been a big fan of sevens," he said. "It's a great honour to be asked. As soon as Stevie [Gemmell, the head coach] offered me it, I just about bit his arm off. I love the sevens. I know there's going to be a lot of good, hard graft this summer getting myself back up to sevens speed but I've said many times: you're a long time retired, so while I'm in demand I'll do whatever's asked of me."

He is one of the ringers Gemmell has turned to as he tries everything he can think of to make sure that Scotland go all the way to the final day and are contenders for medals. Tommy Seymour, his Glasgow colleague, is the other Test player who is cutting short his summer tour to join the sevens adventure. Richie Vernon and Lee Jones are both full caps and Mark Bennett will join them soon.

All of which means it has been a bad week for the sevens specialists. The likes of Michael Maltman, Chris Dean and Andrew Turnbull have travelled the planet in search of World Series glory but haven't made the cut for the big one. They have been beaten by power and rugby experience even if Lamont is the only player in common across the dozen years.

"It's not just the game that's changed but the type of player has changed too," Lamont said. "They're going away from the small, nippy guys. You get these guys who are bigger, faster, stronger. Sometimes the physics outweighs skill; you might have a small guy being physical over the ball but if you get someone who's big and powerful blasting over, they get the ball back. In sevens, possession is key. The physicality and fitness has moved on."

Which means that for all his enthusiasm, Lamont knows the next couple of months are going to hurt as he goes on a crash course to convert 15-a-side fitness, which is more about power, into sevens fitness - speed and endurance.

"It's rugby, but could almost be a completely different sport. Fifteens is more physical, and it's generally against bigger guys, but as a winger, if you get 15 touches of the ball in a game it's a high workload. You might have to do one length-of-the-pitch sprint in 15s but in sevens you're doing that every other phase. In 14 minutes, you do the same amount of work you do in 80 minutes of 15s, all of it high intensity."

Would he have it any other way? Of course not. Lamont is a poster boy for enthusiasm, and this is him in his element. Heading for the RaboDirect Pro12 final next weekend, flying straight to the USA for the Test tour, flying back early to start his sevens training and then the Commonwealth Games. Non-stop and he's loving it.

"It's brilliant. I'd rather be busy and involved than not. While I'm in demand I'll keep taking it. Don't let the wife hear me saying this, but don't talk about holidays. If I have to be used every week until I drop dead I'll do it. I'll never retire. Either the body will break down or I'll become surplus to requirements. While I'm in demand I'm a happy man," he said.

Contextual targeting label: 
Sport

Commenting & Moderation

We moderate all comments on HeraldScotland on either a pre-moderated or post-moderated basis.
If you're a relatively new user then your comments will be reviewed before publication and if we know you well and trust you then your comments will be subject to moderation only if other users or the moderators believe you've broken the rules

Moderation is undertaken full-time 9am-6pm on weekdays, and on a part-time basis outwith those hours. Please be patient if your posts are not approved instantly.

235733