The hosts already had this year’s title sewn up after winning the previous Saturday’s tournament at Selkirk – their fifth victory this time round – but refused to rest on their laurels and instead put in what they reckon might well have been their best performance of the campaign now concluded.
That 28-5 victory against the capital side put Jed-Forest 22 points clear of nearest challengers Melrose at the top of the Kings of the 7s table with a club record total of 68 points, a feat all the more impressive as they only had nine tournaments to muster that tally from rather than the usual 10.
That was the 14th time Jed have won their home-town tournament and the sixth time they’ve been crowned Kings of the 7s, making them the second most successful side in the 28-year history of the competition behind Melrose, currently on eight titles but without a win to their name since 2014.
Jed’s route to the final consisted of beating Biggar 31-0 in the first round, Kelso 33-12 in the quarter-finals and Melrose 19-14 in the semis.
Accies got there by seeing off Peebles 42-5 in round one, Selkirk 31-5 in the quarters and Gala 21-12 in the semis.
The Borders’ other representatives at Saturday’s 16-team tournament, Hawick, were knocked out by Melrose in the quarters, going down 31-10, after defeating Currie 21-14 in round one.
Gavin Welsh put Accies ahead against their hosts by touching down just one minute into the final, but that was as good as it got for them as Jed-Forest responded with tries by Gary Munro, Lewis Young at the double and Rory Marshall, with Munro converting all four, to bring the Jed Challenge Cup, first contested a century ago, back home after a six-year absence.
Looking back over that final, try-scorer Young told Borders Rugby TV it had been tougher than the eventual scoreline might suggest.
“That was tough,” he said. “We had to dig deep there and over the whole tournament. We’ve played some tough teams today, but when you get the crowd behind you and the sun’s shining, what a day it was.
“Preparation’s been tough for us as we knew we had the Kings of the 7s title in the bag, but we didn’t want to disappoint the boys here or the crowd. They’ve obviously come down because they know we are a good side, so just to back that up here and win was unbelievable.
“We’ve got some older guys with a lot of experience played at a high level, and we’ve brought younger guys in, like Lewis Walker here and Kieran Hayes at some of the other tournaments, and they’ve gelled together and that’s worked massively for us this year.”
Saturday’s other first-round results included four victories for Borderers against opposition from further afield – by 28-5 for Melrose versus Musselburgh, 29-17 for Kelso against Boroughmuir, 28-12 for Selkirk against Highland and 29-10 for Gala facing Berwick 10, and the Galashiels side followed up that win by seeing off Watsonians 38-19 in the quarters.
Selkirk ended the campaign third overall with 45 points, Kelso fourth with 29, Gala sixth with 25 and Hawick eighth with 17.