Column: Comeback for Melrose Sevens will be history in the making
History will be made on Saturday when the world-famous Melrose Sevens, returning after a two-year break, are played on the Greenyards’ 3G surface for the first time, with their final taking place under new floodlights.
What would Ned Haig, the man who invented the abbreviated game back in 1883 have made of it all? I’m sure he would be very very proud.
Next year will mark the 150th anniversary of the event, and if you think this year is special, just wait until April 2023 as great things are planned to mark the occasion.
There are some cracking guest teams this year, with the Co-optimists team including the likes of Cecil Afrika from the Blitzboks and Kenyan sevens king Collins Injera, the latter being a world cup semi-finalist who has scored over 270 tries in the World Rugby Series and has been at three consecutive world cups and Commonwealth Games.
Afrika, of course, is an Olympic medallist and South Africa’s top try-scorer of all time at sevens. He was named as the International Rugby Board’s sevens player of the year in 2011. One of his rugby highlights will come this weekend in Melrose, playing at the home of sevens.
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Then there are Samurai, the top invitational team knows as the Barbarians of sevens rugby. They will be here to win, and with two big teams on either side of the draw, we could actually get a Samurai v Co-optimists final, but you only have to glance back at the history of these events to know that there is no such thing as a dead cert at this tournament.
We have seen big guns come unstuck before and there are plenty of teams who will want to have their say as to who will be presented with the world-famous Ladies’ Centenary Cup.
Holders London Scottish Lions will be joined by Belgium, the British Army, Seventise, from France, and Lomaiviti, packed with quality Fijian players.
There’s the cream of Scottish teams too, plus seven Borders teams sides chasing Kings of the 7s points.
Melrose will be bolstered by several Southern Knights players, Jed-Forest are specialists at sevens and will be out to go far in this tournament, Gala and Hawick will want to make a mark and Kelso will be faced with the challenge of taking on the favourites, the Co-optimists, in round one.
Selkirk have never won a Melrose Sevens and are long overdue a good run while Peebles always put on a good show punching above their weight.
The Borders Rugby TV team will be out in force as we launch our radio station, broadcasting from 10.30am until 8pm. To tune in, go to https://www.bordersrugby.net/ to find the link to listen live.