NOT only will Gala Sevens kick off the spring circuit on Sunday, but this year it will also be the launch pad of the 2011 Kings of the Sevens series.
It promises to be an interesting afternoon of rugby as the clubs emerge from their winter league campaigns and set their sights on glory in the abbreviated game.
Despite the difficult economical times, Gala have attracted several new sponsors this year with Nissan Dalgliesh sponsoring the jerseys and both George Marshall Tractors and Gala Life sponsoring the match balls.
Beatson’s Building Supplies are backing this year’s event, the 120th time that the tournament has been contested. And, under the supervision of events and marketing manager Gordon Keddie, the club has been working hard this week to ensure that the day is a success.
He said: “Hopefully we’ll get good weather and it should be a great family day. There will be refreshments and entertainment during the afternoon and evening, which should create a party atmosphere.
“The finals of the ladies’ competition will take place between the semi-finals and the final, the bars and the beer tent are open all day and, of course, the rugby should be high-quality stuff.”
Having contested the final of the first sevens final against host club Melrose in 1883, Gala ran their first “sports” the following year which saw athletics and goal kicking competitions as well as rugby. In 2009 the club hosted their 125th anniversary tournament which saw Selkirk run out convincing winners against Melrose in the final.
With Sunday being the first of the Kings events this year the tournament is so far wide open and anything could happen as the 16 Scottish teams take to the field. Melrose, as reigning champions, should be strong contenders – while the city sides are always a threat.
It is a great Borders tradition to look suspiciously at the draws for the sevens tournaments. However, there can be no question of Gala rigging it when you see the tough test the hosts have been handed in the first round, when they face old rivals Hawick.
West coast side Ardrossan join the fray for the first time, but face a tough ask in the opening tie when facing serious sevens contenders Selkirk. In addition to the sevens event on the main pitch, Gala Veterans will hold their own tournament on the back pitches throughout the day, while a ladies competition will be staged as a warm-up for the expected large crowd.
There will be evening entertainment in centenary lounge and free admission after the conclusion of the final.