IN PICTURES: Bumper turnout at Melrose Sevens

Ladies dressed as land girls stand out from the crowd at the Greenyards.
Ladies dressed as land girls stand out from the crowd at the Greenyards.

More than 12,000 spectators flocked to the Greenyards for the usual mix of international and local rugby talent at the 128th playing of Melrose Sevens on Saturday.

Rugby fans and players from as far afield as Poland and the USA enjoyed the tournament which plays a special part in the town’s history, having started in Melrose in 1883.

Young fans grab the best view in the house at the Greenyards.

Young fans grab the best view in the house at the Greenyards.

Melrose Rugby Club president Douglas Hardie said: “The turnout was well up on the last few years with online ticket sales up 175% on last year. It was excellent and we had a further 350 in the hospitality tent.

“It’s the biggest sporting event in the south of Scotland and the biggest annual rugby event outside of BT Murrayfield.

“But we also try to support local businesses where possible too and are very conscious of the ripple effect which means its not just Melrose that benefits but other towns as well.

“I understand the economic benefit for the area is between £1.5m and £2m.

Thousands of supporters fill the grounds at the Greenyards.

Thousands of supporters fill the grounds at the Greenyards.

Once again the afternoon’s games were broadcast live on BBC Scotland, bringing the Borders event to a national stage.

“Five hours live on BBC television going out nationally means the event really is getting very good coverage and I believe they’re hoping to show it in America in future too,” Douglas said.

“It was great to welcome the USA Tigers and while they were disappointed they didn’t get further in the tournament, they were a credit to their side. We had youngsters from TD1 Youth Hub in for a tour earlier in the week and the American lads came in and joined them for lunch, making a huge effort to mix with the kids. They were exceptionally good ambassadors for their club and country.

“The Polish development team also deserve a mention and we had the pleasure of the Polish vice councillor and his wife at the lunch as well as Aileen Campbell, the Scottish Government’s minister for health and sport.”

A hen party from Carluke honours bride-to-be Jennifer who brought giant groom John to the Greenyards with her.

A hen party from Carluke honours bride-to-be Jennifer who brought giant groom John to the Greenyards with her.

And while The Ladies Cup made its way north to Edinburgh after Watsonians beat Melrose int he final, plenty of revellers stayed in town late into the night for the Greenyards afterparty.

Douglas added: “Between 1,300 and 1,400 people enjoyed the party afterwards. It’s a very wide age group that goes to that, and I’m told there was not trouble at all.”

Tiger USA supporters cheer on their team.

Tiger USA supporters cheer on their team.