Crowning glory at Melrose for Kings of Sevens contest
It's the marquee Kings of the Sevens event, BBC2 Scotland cameras will be there, the largest expected crowd in recent years will be there, international and local sevens rugby stars will be there.
Everyone wants to shine brightest on the biggest stage of the rugby sevens calendar, writes Alex McLeman.
When the crowds, television cameras and players descend on the Greenyards Saturday for the 128th staging of the Aberdeen Standard Investments Melrose Sevens, there will be the usual mix of international and local flavour, all vying for a place in rugby sevens lore.
“Just like everyone else, we are going into this weekend to win. This is our home event and we want to win it all,” said Melrose head coach, Rob Chrystie. His side aims to go a step further than last year’s runners-up finish and become the first Scottish club team to win the tournament since the hosts in 2011.
In addition to Melrose and the usual Kings of the Sevens sides, Glasgow Hawks, Currie Chieftains, Cartha QP, Heriots, Edinburgh University, Dundee, Marr, Ayr, Aberdeen, and Stirling County join invitational outfits Poland, USA Tigers and Crusaders all hoping to get their hands on the famous Lady’s Cup.
“We are all thoroughly looking forward to this weekend’s event,” said Melrose club president Douglas Hardie.
“It’s being greatly anticipated, as usual, and we expect everyone who joins us to have a great day.
“We are expecting a decent crowd, as always. The weather might turn some walk-ups away if it continues the way it has been – but our online sales are up 170 per cent on last year and we are looking forward to a big crowd.
Hardie added: “The draw looks great, all very even. Sevens is a game anyone on their day can win. It’s about momentum and clicking at the right moment. This year’s Melrose 7s is shaping up to be just like that. Any one of the teams taking to the field Saturday can win the whole thing.
“In addition to the usual local sides, we welcome a host of international and Scottish talent.”
The USA Tigers side arrived on Monday and are being hosted by local families.
The Polish side arrived in midweek and they are being treated to a gathering at the club tonight (Thursday), after a training session with the Melrose squad, to honour the Polish families who stayed in the area following the establishment of a rehabilitation camp after the Second World War.
“We have second, third, fourth and fifth generation local Polish families joining us to welcome the team and it should be a great evening.” Hardie also revealed exclusively that BBC Scotland has renewed its partnership to continue broadcasting the Melrose event for a further two years, keeping the oldest sevens competition in the world on free-to-air UK TV until 2020.
Gates are scheduled to open at 10am, with the first tie expected to kick off at 11.30am.
Round 1 – Currie Chieftains v Glasgow Hawks, Cartha QP v Boroughmuir, Heriots v Edinburgh University, Peebles v Dundee, Kelso v Marr, GHA v Gala, Hawick v Aberdeen, Selkirk v Stirling County.
Round 2 – Currie Chieftains or Glasgow Hawks v Jed-Forest, Cartha Queens Park or Boroughmuir v Melrose, Peebles or Dundee v USA Tigers, Kelso or Marr v Poland, GHA or Gala v Ayr, Hawick or Aberdeen v Crusaders, Selkirk or Stirling County v Watsonians.