Vets turn back the clock

Doddie Weir joined up with Steve Turnbull, a club stalwart from Tynedale in replica 19th century playing strips.
Doddie Weir joined up with Steve Turnbull, a club stalwart from Tynedale in replica 19th century playing strips.

THE clock was turned back at The Greenyards recently as Melrose and Tynedale rugby clubs celebrated their historic contributions to seven-a-side rugby, with the host club launching a YouTube homage to veterans rugby from a BAFTA-winning director.

Former Melrose player and Scotland internationalist Doddie Weir joined up with Steve Turnbull, a club stalwart from Tynedale, in replica 19th century playing strips.

The Melrose club invented the abbreviated game in 1883, the idea being credited to Ned Haig a player at the time. In 1894, Tynedale hosted – and won – the first sevens competition to be played in England.

Tynedale is for the first time competing at the Melrose Sevens, entering a team into the Davidson Chalmers Melrose Sevens Veterans Tournament.

This year, in addition to Tynedale, other invitational sides from South Africa, Hong Kong, New Zealand and the Cayman Islands are competing in both competitions.

Rugby legend Gavin Hastings is a former competitor, as is one of the world’s most successful sevens players, Fijian International Waisale Serevi.

This year, the 10-a-side event expects competitors from across the UK, South Africa and the Cayman Islands.

Andy Purves, spokesman for the Melrose Vets Tournament, commented: “There is no doubt that Davidson Chalmers’ investment means we can stage this popular part of the Melrose Sevens weekend.

The worldwide following for social rugby is growing and as the birthplace of sevens rugby, it’s important that Melrose stages one of the best events on the circuit. We are very grateful to Davidson Chalmers for its support and look forward to some exciting and thrilling rugby for our sponsors and our fans.”

In Friday’s tournament, holders Melrose are drawn against Orkney and the Cayman Islands in the first round. The other first-round matches comprise Tynedale (Northumberland), Islay and Glasgow Legends (Glasgow Hawks); and Hamilton (South Africa), Morgan Academy and the Auld Reekies (Edinburgh clubs).

Andy Drane, partner of Davidson Chalmers, said: “The results of the draw guarantee some very interesting rugby on Friday and it’s very pleasing to see so many new teams this year. Veteran rugby is an increasingly popular part of social rugby and there is no better place to play than Melrose, the home of sevens.”

The tournament consists of teams of 10 players, with clubs eliminated being entered into subsidiary Bowl and Plate events. Last year the Davidson Chalmers Cup was won by Melrose, the Bowl by Madras College, and the Plate by Glasgow Hawks.

Spectator entrance to the Davidson Chalmers VETS Tournament is free, with free car parking. There will be bar and catering facilities, and the first match kicks off at noon.