All is bright except the weather down Netherdale way

THE weather may have taken a downward turn, but everything in the Gala garden remains rosy this week as they look ahead to their annual sevens tournament on Saturday, writes Fiona Scott.

Still buzzing from their scintillating victory in their RBS Scottish Cup semi-final tie against Dundee last weekend (see report on page 29) the Maroons would be in sevens heaven if they could lift the cup at their own competition (preview and draw on page 30).

President George Marshall told TheSouthern: “For me, the season has just gone so quickly and easily it’s hard to take in that we’re almost at our sevens, we have a cup final coming up and a Border League final just after that.

“The good thing is that it’s all positive, so everyone is keen to get involved and help out with everything that needs to be done, particularly with the new format this year.

“We have had sevens training this week. It’s going to be difficult because we need to keep the XV squad fit, too, but we are just about ready to select a sevens team and hopefully we can make an impact on the challenge for the Kings title when it all kicks-off on Saturday.”

Gala will face Premier One rivals Ayr in the RBS Scottish Cup final on Saturday, April 21, at Murrayfield. The west coast outfit beat Boroughmuir 30-25 in a tense encounter at Millbrae last week and if they win the silverware they will be the first team to win it three times in a row. Gala, however, will be doing everything in their power to stop them.

The Kings of the Sevens tournament was given an added boost this weekend when organisers confirmed Heineken as a new sponsor of the competition, along with Borders Solicitors Property Centre, who are continuing their involvement from last year.

Border League president Bob Hogarth said: “Heineken are a massive brand and we look forward to working with them.”

Heineken representative Jon Threadgall added: “The sevens tournaments are not only an integral part of Borders history, but are a great chance to showcase the new and upcoming talent within Scottish rugby.”

Elsewhere this week, Melrose have announced that guest team Bay of Plenty will not be attending next week’s event at The Greenyards, as a result of the late withdrawal of the New Zealand side’s sponsor.

The good news is that the replacement team is current English Premiership champions Saracens, who readily accepted the invitation. This will be a first appearance at Melrose Sevens for the London club and they will be managed by none other than former Melrose favourite and Scotland cap Kelly Brown.

Melrose RFC president John Reed said: “We are disappointed that Bay of Plenty will not be present, but delighted that Saracens have agreed to take part. It illustrates well the standing of Melrose Sevens that a club of Saracens standard are so keen to participate.”

Brown added: “This is a fantastic opportunity for the Saracens players to be involved in one of the most prestigious sevens tournaments in the world.

“We’re really looking forward to entering what I am sure will be a very fiercely-contested event. I know the guys who will be taking part can’t wait.”