Plenty to keep sevens fans happy

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TOP southern hemisphere club Bay of Plenty from New Zealand will play in the Aberdeen Asset Management Melrose Sevens on April 14, where they will be joined by Singapore, Hong Kong Scottish and London Scottish.

Speaking at the announcement of the teams last week, Melrose Sevens convener Ian Cooper said he was delighted at the calibre of the sides his committee has been able to attract to this year’s tournament.

“With Bay of Plenty eager to repeat their achievement of 1992, together with strong sides from London Scottish and Hong Kong Scottish, I feel that any one of a dozen sides is capable of winning the tournament. Add to that the unknown dimension of Singapore, and I believe we can look forward to yet another outstanding afternoon of top-quality sevens rugby.”

Bay of Plenty (The Steamers) was founded in 1911 and are returning on the 20th anniversary of winning the event in 1992 when they defeated Kelso 19–12 in the final.

On that occasion the team was coached by the present All Blacks sevens coach Gordon Tietjens, pictured right, and once again he has been instrumental in their return visit to Melrose.

Finishing third in the ITM Cup, they are regarded as one of New Zealand’s top sides. Toby Arnold is a member of the current All Blacks sevens team while Tanerau Latimer, Mike Delany and Sam Cane (Richie McCaw’s understudy) are involved with the full All Blacks XVs squad.

Singapore plan to field their strongest development side in this, their first appearance at Melrose.

In the spirit of assistance and co-operation, Melrose RFC will invite a “developing Commonwealth rugby nation” for each of the three years prior to the Commonwealth Games being held in Glasgow in 2014.

Singapore will arrive in Melrose a week prior to the event and will take part in coaching and development sessions during the time leading up to the tournament.

Verizon Hong Kong Scottish are delighted to be invited back to the event. Last year, the team played at The Greenyards event with a group of players drawn from other Hong Kong clubs, but this year the outfit are fully established and are able to bring their own players.

Tom Bury, Murray Allan, Niall Shannon and James Murray all four of the Hong Kong side with experience of playing in Scottish rugby.

London Scottish make a welcome return to the Greenyards. They have competed in five Melrose Sevens finals, winning two of them, in 1962 and 1965. No doubt there will be a determination to add their name again to the Ladies’ Cup particularly as this is the 50th anniversary of their first victory at the event – coupled with the experience of their head coach and former England sevens supremo Simon Amor.

Scottish clubs appearing will be Gala, Hawick, Jedforest, Kelso, Langholm, Peebles, Selkirk, Boroughmuir, Currie, Heriots, Watsonians, Aberdeen GSFP, Dundee HSFP, Glasgow Hawks, Edinburgh Academicals, Stewart’s Melville, Stirling County, Whitecraigs, Hamilton. Hosts Melrose complete the 24-team draw.