It always looked likely that Melrose would wrap up the Kings of the Sevens title by the end of last weekend, but when they did it at the end of the Kelso tournament – only the seventh in the 10-event competition – it was a rather special achievement.
With their third victory on the trot, they came through the pool stage without conceding a point against Edinburgh Academicals (31-0) and Edinburgh University (35-0), and they looked as if they would keep a clean sheet in their semi-final against Jed-Forest.
In the end they leaked a couple of late scores and won 31-12, going into the final in very good shape to meet Hawick in a repeat of the Peebles Sevens final six days before.
The Greens were at their best in this match. They swept past Langholm and Watsonians in their pool before putting out a good Selkirk team 24-7 in the semi-final. Hawick began as underdogs, but they put in one of their best performances of the season to run Melrose close, going down 26-24 when literally time ran out on them and they couldn’t build on a late converted try from Lee Armstrong.
Earlier in the tie, Callum Anderson cancelled out Keith Davies’s opening touchdown to tie the scores, then Neil McColm darted in by the posts to retake the lead.
Anderson responded again before Lee Armstrong put Hawick back in front. In this see-saw of a match, Mark Robertson cantered in to draw level, with Andrew Skeen’s conversion making it 19-17 at the turn. Austin Lockington sprinted in for a fourth for Melrose, while Lee Armstrong’s fourth for the Teries wasn’t enough to peg back the rampant Greenyards men. In the end it was all about one missed conversion separating the two.
Many had predicted that Melrose would be the team to beat this year, especially after they finished their 15s season prior to the sevens circuit starting.
Of course, every player who plays the abbreviated game for Melrose has this built-in pride. They all know they are the current crop who are keeping the history going and that sense of expectancy by everyone when watching a Melrose sevens team is something they are very aware of.
At the final whistle and the job done, it would be so easy for the squad to celebrate their Kings win and take the foot off the gas, but that didn’t even enter the heads of the players. They want to keep breaking records.
If they win the last tournaments they could lift the previous record of 65 points in the series to a colossal 88. They have their own agenda and as far as they are all concerned, there’s plenty of work to be done yet and more markers to lay down.
This squad want to be remembered for their achievements this season and have the chance to continue to create history. We all remember the famous Gala, Kelso and Hawick VIIs of their time when they romped through tournaments. The Melrose class of 2014 want to be remembered in the same breath as these Border legends, and if they carry on their season the way they are going, perhaps they will.
Captain Andrew Skeen said: “This has been a massive achievement for the boys.
“We wanted to come down here and win the Kelso Sevens – and we ended up winning the Kings title into the bargain. The boys have put so much work into it, but we never thought we’d win it this early. We want to set a record that will be hard to beat.”
Director of rugby Mike Dalgetty also paid tribute to his team.
“They are very talented lads – well coached with an incredible workrate and will to win – the perfect recipe for success,” he said.