Heading into the final round of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series 2015-16 at Twickenham, Scotland had never competed in a Cup final — let alone lifted the main prize.
But following two action-packed days at the HSBC London Sevens between 21-22 May, 2016 there was a new name on the trophy.
Dougie Fife was Scotland’s hero in the final as the test-capped player scored two late tries to seal a 27-26 victory against a stunned South Africa.
“It’s a weekend I will never forget and definitely one of my proudest rugby moments,” Fife recalled.
Route to the final
Scotland’s campaign in south-west London did not get off to the most auspicious start as the team were held to a 14-14 draw against Pool C rivals France. Subsequent victories over Kenya and Portugal would see Scotland into Sunday’s Cup quarter-finals, but it was France who topped the pool.
England and either New Zealand or the USA now stood between Fife and his team-mates and the showpiece match but Scotland found their form, and some style.
Hosts England were beaten 17-0 in the quarter-finals before, in a harbinger of things to come, Fife scored two late tries to turn a 17-7 deficit against the USA into a 24-17 victory.
Scotland’s path to a first World Series Cup success was now barred only by South Africa. And following an early Seabelo Senatla try it was Scotland who led 10-7 at half-time, thanks to scores from Jamie Farndale and Scott Wight.
The Blitzboks were not keen to let a shot at a second Cup win of the season pass them by in the final round, however, and began the second period strongly.
Rosko Specman scored two tries, while Cecil Afrika also crossed the whitewash to leave Scotland — who had notched a third try through Farndale — 26-15 behind with time against them.
Fife breached the South African line to keep Scotland in contention, but with less than a minute left on the clock victory still looked to be beyond them. Not that the players ever gave up hope.
“Once I put the ball down and the whistle went I remember looking at Riddler [Scott Riddell] who passed to me and I just started laughing,” Fife added.
“We had so much belief and fun in that squad, it just felt like everything was clicking.
“I can’t remember [if] there was much chat going on. There were little looks between each other, we knew we had a chance. Twenty seconds to go, it was a mad rush to get back for the restart.”
Scotland’s moment of history
Scotland needed to retain possession from their kick-off and in order to do so Wight made the decision to take a quick restart to himself.
It was an option that took nerve but paid dividends as blue shirts swarmed towards the Twickenham try-line with ball in hand.
Having worked possession into the South African 22, and with an advantage for offside, the ball came back to Fife. He took a look up, spotted a slight gap and pinned his ears back to score a try that created Scottish rugby history.
“The boys managed to get the ball close to the try line down the left. The crowd was pretty loud so I couldn’t hear much outside me,” Fife said.
“I spotted a chance and when the referee called the advantage, that was my decision made. So I went for the try line and thankfully got over.
“The initial reaction is hard to explain or even put into words even now. I just kept shaking my head in disbelief.
“There was quite a long time from the final whistle to receiving the cup and some media before we finally all got into the changing room together.
“Just being with the squad and seeing messages from family and friends — that’s when it started to sink in.”
Having waited so long for Cup success, Scotland would repeat the feat in London 12 months later as a team featuring Fife, Wight and captain Riddell defeated hosts England 12-7 in the final.