Top French Club Clermont Auvergne will join the fray for the first time at the Aberdeen Asset Management Melrose Sevens on Saturday.
English Premiership winners Saracens will return to defend the title they won in style last year, with Worcester Warriors and India completing the guest list.
Neil McIlroy, Clermont team manager, is an avid follower of the Borders sevens circuit and knows exactly who he wants to face in the final.
“The fantastic reputation of the tournament is widespread and it is an honour for us to send a team to represent Clermont, and indeed France,” he said.
“I have told the club of the fine traditions of Borders sevens, epitomised at Melrose, and of the warm welcome that awaits them, both on and off the field.
“I hope that the tournament, of which I have fantastic memories, goes well and would like to sincerely thank Melrose RFC for the opportunity and here’s to a Clermont v Jed-Forest final!”
Scottish clubs also competing for the prestigious Ladies Cup will be Gala, Hawick, Jed-Forest, Kelso, Langholm, Peebles, Selkirk, Ayr, Boroughmuir, Currie, Heriots, Watsonians, Aberdeen Grammar, Dundee HSFP, Glasgow Hawks, Edinburgh Accies, Stewart’s Melville, Stirling County and Howe Of Fife. Hosts Melrose complete the 24-team draw.
Melrose Sevens convener, Ian Cooper, says he is delighted at the calibre of the sides his committee has been able to attract to this year’s tournament.
“With Clermont Auvergne eager to make their mark, together with strong sides from Saracens and Worcester, I feel that any one of a dozen sides is capable of winning the tournament,” he added.
“Add to that the unknown dimension of India and I believe we can look forward to yet another outstanding afternoon of top quality sevens rugby.”
Martin Gilbert, chief executive of the main sponsor, commented: “Aberdeen Asset Management is proud to be associated with such a historic and much loved tournament.
“The Melrose Sevens attract teams from not only Scotland, but from all parts of the world, with players keen to perform in the town where the sevens game was born. It is a special day for players and supporters alike and it is great to be involved.”
The tournament will be supervised by a team of seventop Scottish referees – David Changleng, Rob Dickson, Iain Heard, Neil Paterson, Cammy Rudkin, Andrew McMenemy and Peter Allan, supported by 10 referees’ assistants and in-goal-area judges to be appointed by the Borders Referees Society appointments panel from qualified referees from within the Borders area.
Melrose RFC is pleased to welcome Alex Pratt, top SRU lady referee among the officials for the first time.