Marshall raises sevens questions as Maroons relaunch tournament

Galashiels RFC President George Marshall.
Galashiels RFC President George Marshall.

GALA president George Marshall said he believes there are too many sevens tournaments in the Borders, as his club launched further changes to their already revamped competition.

The Netherdale side last year changed from a straight knockout to group format and moved the tournament to a later start, ensuring a floodlit final, which Jed-Forest won.

In 2013, the pool system will remain in place, with 12 sides divided into three again.

But with the top four teams in each group again advancing to the cup semi-finals, the second-placed side will now go into the plate and the third teams into a bowl contest, in a similar style used by the World Sevens Series.

Marshall said: “The beauty of this format is that every team taking part will be guaranteed at least three games and 50 per cent will have at least four games.

I hope this will help to attract supporters of the teams taking part to come to Netherdale.

“I feel that the sevens scene has been flagging a bit in recent years.

“There’s not so many players and there’s not so much cash around. The bottom line is that we have too many sevens tournaments. It’s understandable because this has been a traditional way of raising money for the clubs. But it’s the same customers they’re chasing.

“I hope that our new-look sevens will be more attractive to players and spectators. The format works for the IRB World Series and it should for a mini version like Gala.

“It should also provide a great warm-up for the Melrose Sevens, which is still the Blue Riband tournament.

“But, crucially, any team competing at Gala will get a chance to show what they can do.

“It won’t be the brutal straight knock-out. And teams generally improve once they get past the first round.”

Among the favourites for the April 6 tournament, sponsored again by Five Star Taxis, will be guest professional side Edinburgh Rugby.

The event will also include veterans and primary school competitions.