Column: Lots of hard work required to stage event as big as Melrose Sevens

It’s really interesting to read in the national newspapers and on social media the opinions of many talking about the Melrose Sevens tournament last Saturday at the Greenyards.

By Stuart Cameron
Wednesday, 13th April 2022, 11:07 am
Updated Wednesday, 13th April 2022, 6:34 pm
The British Army's team celebrating winning this year's Melrose Sevens (Photo: Bill McBurnie)
The British Army's team celebrating winning this year's Melrose Sevens (Photo: Bill McBurnie)

There were many points made relating to this year’s event, including complaints about there being too many invitational teams and snatches of music being too loud and being played just as teams were about to kick off rather than immediately after tries were scored.

On the whole, I enjoyed it very much, as did our Borders Rugby Radio team, who covered the event in a broadcast lasting almost 10 hours non-stop. My thanks to all of them for working tirelessly on Saturday.

A red card is always going to be controversial. It was only the second red to be seen at the Melrose Sevens in 139 years and it was unfortunate for Co-optimists, whose player Freddie Owsley was the one sent off, because they exited the tournament at the hands of Currie Chieftains, who found plenty of space to run in tries and send the favourites packing.

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It was a joy to watch some of the best exponents of the shortened game produce high-quality entertainment and it was fantastic to see the Melrose Sevens back.

I’ve spent lots of time of time in the lead-up with the organisers of the event and seeing at first hand the work that went in to put this on. You will see the results of that in my two-part one-hour documentary on ITV Border in the coming weeks, but I’d like to recognise the hard work put in behind the scenes.

Nothing this big will run smoothly, and there were many bumps in the road for the organisers, but they did an incredible job.

Talking with tournament director Phil Morris on many occasions, he has ambitious plans for the future, and with Melrose’s new facilities, the potential is enormous.

I, personally, would love to see a traditional club tournament on the Saturday with a semi-pro tournament on the Sunday. Women’s, veterans’ and junior competitions would be very welcome too, along with other fringe events.

One final word, though, on behalf of all my media colleagues who would love clubs to address the problem of players wearing numbers bearing no resemblance to those on the few teamsheets submitted.

For commentators, covering sevens is hard enough as it is, but their job is made impossible when that happens so frequently.

Relatives and friends of all players expect their nearest and dearest to be named correctly. We all went the extra mile to identify the correct players but it was an uphill task as most, if not all, clubs submitted the wrong information, then used in good faith on TV and radio.