Rose await Ayr’s rescheduled visit after call-off controversy

Melrose's first team squad played a 20-minute, 10-a-side practice match at the Greenyards on Saturday - hastily arranged after Ayr refused to play their top-flight match because of their concerrns over the playing surface (picture by Stuart Cobley).
Melrose's first team squad played a 20-minute, 10-a-side practice match at the Greenyards on Saturday - hastily arranged after Ayr refused to play their top-flight match because of their concerrns over the playing surface (picture by Stuart Cobley).
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Hosts Melrose have submitted a report into the controversy on Saturday which saw their BT Premiership game with Ayr postponed only a couple of minutes before kick-off.

The visitors had decided after a warm-up session that sections of the Greenyards pitch were too hard, and declined to play the top-table game.

Melrose had believed the ground was playable, but had to accept the decision.

Because the call-off was made so late, they were required to submit a factual report on what had happened within 48 hours, which they have done.

Melrose’s director of rugby, Mike Dalgetty, said the matter would probably proceed now to the rearranged fixture, which was scheduled for January 6.

The decision on Saturday caused a certain amount of dismay in the home ranks.

Mr Dalgetty said in online interviews that Melrose always tried to do things properly in terms of ground preparation, and that they would never ask anyone to play on a dangerous surface.

However, Ayr’s head coach, Callum Forrester, said his side had gone through a full warm-up but still felt the pitch was not right.

A statement on Ayr’s Facebook page said: “The decision was made just before kick-off to postpone the match, as the pitch was too hard and would only get harder due to the low temperatures.

“Player welfare is always the top priority and the team was not prepared to risk their safety by playing full contact for 80 minutes on a partially frozen pitch.”

Mr Dalgetty said he stood by the view that the Melrose surface was playable, but added the rules had been properly applied.

There were three arbiters – the referee and the two team captains – and any one of them decided they did not want to play, then that decision had to stand, without interference.

“There was nothing un toward in terms of that on Saturday, although there was a difference of opinion,” said Mr Dalgetty. Asked what he thought the atmosphere might be like for the rearranged game, he said: “You have to move on. You move on and you do things properly, and that’s what we will do.”

On a separate note, Melrose players Ross McCann, Nyle Godsmark and Sam Pecqueur had been involved for Scotland in the recent Dubai Sevens and the Cape Town Sevens, and Mr Dalgetty said: “There’s a pyramid and, if our guys move on to represent their country, it’s outstanding. That’s why they are involved with us – because they are ambitious, and, if that ambition comes to fruition, it’s perfect.”