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Same old story as losing streak continues

After all that has happened in Scottish rugby in recent weeks, the use of the word "progress" in the headline of a press release relating to one of our national teams may briefly have offered hope to those less used to how international sevens tournaments worked.

It was an exceedingly odd word to use in describing the Scotland team's latest efforts. For "Scotland 7s Progress In Dubai Bowl Competition" read: Scotland lost all three of their pool matches and are consigned to their regular place in the consolation event.

Fair dos to the SRU press officer for presumably seeking to put a brave face on things but there was no way of disguising the fact that this was another weekend that reminded the Scottish rugby community that the rest of the world is catching up fast and on the point of overtaking.

Less than a week after what was arguably the worst ever result for the full Scotland team when losing to Tonga, the sevens side were not only beaten by the South Sea Islanders' neighbours, Fiji, but also by Kenya and Spain. Those defeats meant the Scotland team has now played six pool matches on the IRB circuit this season and lost the lot.

Concern that there is some sort of corporate denial at play was not allayed by the quotes attributed to Phil Greening, their head coach, who said: "We played well at times and, against Kenya and Spain, we were ahead for long periods." Is that really any sort of mitigation?

Yet the tone is similar to the belief expressed elsewhere in the organisation that, after a year in which Scotland have failed to win a home match for the first time since 1998, suffering only the second Six Nations whitewash in 27 years along the way, the team somehow is poised to make a major breakthrough.

The reality is that the sequence of results that has followed public pronouncements in Aberdeen that the stated strategic goal of winning the 2015 World Cup is still achievable could hardly have been designed to make the SRU's executives look more foolish.

Admittedly, the night before Scotland lost to Tonga, a win was recorded by Edinburgh against the Ospreys, but that ended a sequence of seven straight defeats and happened while Glasgow were failing to score in losing to Leinster.

This latest failure by a sevens squad that travels to exotic locations all over the world making little impact on the tournaments in which they participate must, meanwhile, raise further questions about the vast amount of money being spent with little reward.

That said, it is perhaps as well that the SRU executives who made the trip to Dubai have had a further opportunity to witness at first hand the rate at which Scotland's fellow rugby minnows are growing.

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