A Day Out In Melrose

On an unfeasibly warm Scottish Saturday a few South African’s were overheard complaining about a tanned backside…

The general consensus is that, as Melrose lifted the Ladies Centenary trophy at their own Sevens for the first time in 13 years, it could only be a good thing. Scottish rugby wanted to bask in a collective glory.

As I heard from one spectator on the day, the event was “tidy”. The sun split the trees and scorched a crowd hell-bent on enjoying itself. Everyone was in high spirits. The rugby wasn’t bad, either.

Every tie had something in it and the collective good will seemed to tease performances out of the lowliest of club players. Everyone from Langholm to Waikato scored at least one spectacular try. In Hamilton’s case they were scoring long-range efforts at will, in the early rounds.

A few people have problems with the event, though.

Some of club rugby’s old heads take issue with the amount of money Melrose get from the annual showcase but I’m of the opinion that prestige and history mean this is a must. Scotland needs the Melrose Sevens. It is a highlight of the year and the spectacle is different from anything else on the calendar.

Sorry, but the Melrose Sevens is better than the Murrayfield Sevens.

The atmosphere at The Greenyards was more palpable than it will be in the capital in May. Don’t get me wrong, it is a good event and people will enjoy themselves, but you cannot compare the two. The mood and vast spaces at Murrayfield will mean more of a black hole for noise and the potential lack of Scottish participation will probably be to the detriment of the weekend.

The Melrose day wasn’t exclusively Scottish, however. The invitational sides added something and the guys from Waikato were hugely popular with the crowd. Indeed the tie of the day, with the exception of the final, of course, would have to be Waikato versus Hamilton. It was an obscenely physical match and both sides emptied themselves trying to get to the big one.

Then there was the final.

Again cynics could say that the draw was hugely favourable for Melrose as they had to play Hawick, Selkirk and Jed-Forrest but their play was enterprising and they scored a silly amount of tries. They deserved to win.

Callum Anderson and Frazer Thomson were full of running and more importantly Wight, Dodds and Dalziel were patient and clever with their passing. Hamilton had supreme athletes in Adams and du Plessis but they were out-thought in the last game. 

So if Melrose can build on their confidence they could finish the season League winners, cup holders and Melrose Sevens champions. Craig ‘Chick’ Chalmers would then almost certainly move into pro rugby in some capacity. They still have to beat Ayr, twice, to do all this, though. Club rugby may just have a few more surprises in store. Melrose may just be hosting a few more parties, too. That’s if there’s any booze left in the Borders…

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Dundonian Alan has played rugby all over the world for various teams including Dundee High School, Heriot's and the Scottish Club International. Now writing from London he covers all issues international and unreported.

2 comments on “A Day Out In Melrose

  1. Ray on

    The “old heads” that you refer to, those are the people that need to be banished of any influence in Scottish rugby. They are the root of the sru’s problems.

  2. Old Whistler on

    I too enjoyed an excellent day at Melrose, socialising in the car park until dark. Amongst our company were several of the South African players from Hamilton and they admitted that they deserved to lose the final, but that Melrose Sevens was the event they all wanted to play in. These guys are professionals who have represented their country in front of huge crowds at places like Dubai and Hong Kong, but nothing could touch the atmosphere of Melrose; they were delighted to play there.

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