'Muir magic at Melrose

BOROUGHMUIR emerged worthy winners of the 112th Melrose Sevens Tournament last weekend after an afternoon of enthralling rugby that was not without it's upsets.

by Fiona Scott at the Greenyards

BOROUGHMUIR emerged worthy winners of the 112th Melrose Sevens Tournament last weekend after an afternoon of enthralling rugby that was not without it's upsets.

A capacity crowd of 15,000 spectators crammed into the Greenyards to witness a top class field of sevens teams battle it out for the Ladies Centenary Cup and nobody left disappointed as the pace and sheer brilliance of the guest teams, for once, played second fiddle to the power and determination of the Scottish outfits.

Peebles provided a surprise package from the Borders by being the only local team to make it through to the semi-finals and nobody deserved it more. After ousting Gala (17-14) in the opening round the Premier Two Champions gathered momentum to win convincingly over a young Hawick side (21-12) in the second. The quarter final proved to be one of the highlights of the day as the majority of the local support got behind the men from the Gytes to spur them on for a narrow 34-31 victory over a strong Glasgow Hawks team. Adam Moffat (2), Cam Twigley (2), Scott Nichol and Dave Dillon all went over for tries with Nichol slotting two conversions.

Hawks were responsible for the early exit from the tournament of the much fancied guest side, Sanix Bombs (33-15) in their opening round game.

Kelso also provided a surprise result in their opening round when they ground down the US Cougars for a 21-17 victory with Iain Fairley going over to snatch the game in the closing stages. Unfortunately the Tweedsiders never made it passed the quarter final stage where Roy Laidlaw's NIG Scottish Thistles ended their quest with a resounding 29-5 win.

In the top half of the draw Boroughmuir had steadily been making progress although were almost caught in the second round by Jed-Forest who were unlucky not to go through. The Edinburgh side went on to beat Uruguay in the quarter finals by a resounding 31 points to nil.

Melrose provided their home crowd with a large dose of excitement in their quarter final against retaining champions, Barbarians, when they staged a come back in the closing stages to level the scores (21-21). Bruce Ruthven, who won the Tilney Try of the Tournament, touched down for all three of Rose's tries with Callum MaCrae converting the hat-trick. The match came to an end after only just under a minute of extra time when Alex Page made a scintillating break for the Ba-Ba's to take the game.

The first semi-final saw silver haired Charlie Keenan, playing for the Barbarians, come up against his former Boroughmuir team mates who were not about to do their speedy countryman any favours. And, at one stage of the game managed to tip the unfortunate Keenan rather unceremoniously into touch.

Muir set the pace of the game from the off with Malcolm Clapperton scoring from the kick-off and the seemingly invincible Ally Warnock repeating the effort less than a minute later after converting the first. Darren Burns reduced the deficit before the break with Arwel Thomas converting.

Mike Blair, who was without a doubt the player of the tournament put the nail in the Ba-Ba's coffin just after the re-start this time with James Reilly converting.

With only seconds to go however Keenan had the last word when he sprinted over for a consolation try.

Peebles put up a brave fight in their semi against Scottish Thistles but were eventually outclassed by a team that was brought together with the objective of competing with the best in the world in the IRB World Sevens Series.

Cam Twigley and Drew Moore kept Peebles in sight of the Thistles with a try a piece, Scott Nichol converting one, but Laidlaw's team proved just to strong on the day running out 24-12 winners.

After the earlier close fought battles the final proved to be a bit of an anti climax as Boroughmuir stamped their authority all over the game eventually running out decisive victors 38-7.

l Bill McLaren received an emotional send-off at the Greenyards on Saturday just before his last ever commentary for the BBC on the Melrose 7's final.

The huge crowd, some with banners declaring: "We love Bill McLaren" gathered in front of the commentary box as the most celebrated commentator in rugby history prepared for his swan-song.

As the pipe band played the recently composed "McLaren March" the legendary "Voice of Rugby" acknowledged the appreciation of the crowd with a familiar smile and wave.


First round: Boroughmuir 27 Kirkcaldy 12; Currie 19 Watsonians 14; Heriots FP 62 Langholm 0; Peebles 17 Gala 14.

Second round: Jed Forest 14 Boroughmuir 17; Stewart's Melville FP 12 Uruguay 14; Melrose 49 Currie 5; Selkirk 19 Barbarians 40; NIG Scottish Thistles 15 Heriots FP 12; Kelso 21 Cougars 17; Hawick 12 Peebles 21; Glasgow Hawks 33 Sanix Bombs 15.

Quarter-finals: Boroughmuir 31 Uruguay 0; Melrose 21 Barbarians 26 (after extra time); NIG Scottish Thistles 29 Kelso 5; Peebles 34 Glasgow Hawks 31.

Semi-finals: Boroughmuir 19 Barbarians 12; NIG Scottish Thistles 24 Peebles 12.

Final: Boroughmuir 38 Scottish Thistles 7.