Melrose hosts 100th staging of world’s oldest junior rugby contest

The first ever winners, a team representing central Melrose. Back: Harry Rutherford, Jimmy Bunyan (Coach), Sandy Walker. Middle: Fred Hart, Tom Bunyan, Copper Brown. Front: Dick Wilson, Tom Scott.
The first ever winners, a team representing central Melrose. Back: Harry Rutherford, Jimmy Bunyan (Coach), Sandy Walker. Middle: Fred Hart, Tom Bunyan, Copper Brown. Front: Dick Wilson, Tom Scott.

Melrose Rugby is celebrating the 100th playing of the Crichton Cup, believed to be the oldest junior rugby tournament in the world.

The tournament began in early 1900s, with the competition taking the name from local Melrose jeweller J. D. Crichton, who presented a rose bowl to the winners of the trades competition which involved the older boys from the town (pictured).

As years progressed, the tournament grew to include teams from local villages and districts within Melrose and, more recently, areas of the Earlston High School catchment area. This year, nine districts will be represented – Melrose Central, Dingleton, Darnick, Gattonside, Newstead, Newton, St Boswells, Earlston and Lauder.

The Crichton Cup rose bowl is now played for alongside eight other trophies for the differing age groups.

Director of youth rugby Mike Dalrymple said: “I believe the Crichton Cup competition sums up what youth rugby at Melrose is all about.

“It brings together players, parents, coaches, volunteers and spectators to make memories and help build strong links between the different parts of our club.

He added: “We also take the Crichton Cup as an opportunity to build links between a distinguished past and an exciting future for the entire club.”

To celebrate the 100th playing of the tournament, an aerial photograph is due to be taken mid-morning.

All participating children will be asked to create the shape of 100.

The first game commences at 10am, with free entry and action throughout the day, culminating in Lauder playing Melrose in the S5 & S6 competition for the Crichton Cup.