JED-FOREST were presented with the Kings of the Sevens trophy on Saturday as the gruelling six-week long series, incorporating 10 tournaments, came to an end.
Coached by Kevin Amos, Kevin Barrie and Darren Cunningham, the 14-man squad showed consistency and passion throughout to notch up two wins, five runner-up and three quarter-final places to finish the tournament on 64 points.
Speaking to TheSouthern as his team celebrated on Saturday, Amos paid tribute to his small army: “We have a lot of young guys in the squad and one of the main differences this year was that they had a real desire to win.
“From day one they said that they wanted to go for it and that’s exactly what they did. They put 100 per cent into their training and the tournaments and as coaches we couldn’t ask for much more.”
The Riverside outfit had wrapped the title up at Selkirk the previous week and had hoped to celebrate winning their own title on Saturday. However, there was no additional silverware and they fell short by one point in their bid to beat Melrose’s record for the most number of points in a season in the 10-year history of the Kings series when they were knocked out in a thrilling encounter against Gala in the quarter-finals by 17-12, after extra time.
Heriot’s were the surprise winners, taking the Jed trophy for the first time in six years and denying Melrose a hat-trick of victories at the event.
All in all, it was 16 tired looking teams that took to the field in the final tournament of the 2012 circuit and Amos feels that the Border League have to consider moving two, or even three, tournaments back to the Autumn if the Kings series is to be taken seriously as a top-class competitive rugby sevens event.
He explained: “These are only my thoughts, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be the teams that previously held tournaments in the autumn.
“I wouldn’t suggest for a minute that any tournament is better than another, but they definitely have to split the 10 up. There was a lot of tired legs out there today and that’s in every squad, not just Jed.
“Yes, we won the Kings of the Sevens, but we really need to look at the situation. Running 10 competitions in such a short time slot just isn’t working. It’s really taking its toll on the squads.
“If we hadn’t got off to such a good start we would have really struggled by the time we got to this stage. By the end we were really hanging on and all credit to them that they managed to keep going and clinch it.”
Amos was adding his weight to comments made recently by Melrose skipper Graeme Dodds and Hawick coach Phil Leck, and this week Border League secretary John Thorburn confirmed that the matter is under discussion.
He told us: “We had a meeting of the Border League last week and the sevens schedule was the main theme.
“It is clear the demand that the current format has on the players is taking its toll and is something that has to be looked at.
“Clubs will now go back and discuss what options are available and a decision is likely to be made at our next meeting in June.”
Pressures of the circuit aside, Amos, a top sevens exponent himself, was keen to give the final words to his winning outfit.
“I really want everyone to know the total appreciation I have for the 14 guys that have been on board this year and I would like to thank them individually and collectively as a team,” he added.
“They’ve been an absolute pleasure to work with and to coach and they have deserved everything they have won. It’s been a big commitment coaching the sevens squad and Kevin (Barrie) and Darren (Cunningham) have been a massive help. It’s been one big roller coaster ride, but we got there in the end and it’s fantastic.”