Visitors to the oldest and most famous rugby sevens in the heart of the Borders are being urged to kick the car into touch this year and travel by train.
The opening of the Borders Railway in September 2015 means the Aberdeen Asset Management Melrose Sevens tournament is now more accessible than ever before.
Spectators can travel along the 30-mile route between Edinburgh and Midlothian to the Borders for this year’s 134th anniversary annual event, taking place on April 8 .
The history of rugby 7s as a sport can be traced back to Melrose, where it was created in 1883. The seven-a- side game is now played around the world and was debuted at the summer Olympics in Rio in 2016.
Melrose Sevens – set against the stunning background of the Eildon Hills and a stone’s throw from Sir Walter Scott’s Abbotsford House – attracts around 10,000 spectators and participants from all over the world each year.
Around 1200 people used the Borders Railway to travel to the event last year, with more expected to make use of the railway and shuttle bus links again this year.
Malcolm Roughead, chief executive of VisitScotland, said: “The re-establishment of the railway line from Edinburgh through Midlothian to the Scottish Borders has had a massive impact on the local economy. In the Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology, visitors will be able to travel directly to the region to enjoy world-class events like the Aberdeen Asset Management Melrose Sevens.
“This year, Scotland will celebrate both our tangible and intangible heritage – everything from our buildings and archaeological sites to our diverse stories, traditions and culture.
Scotland’s history and culture are among the top reasons for visiting Scotland and we hope to encourage visitors to make the journey on the Borders Railway to soak up the atmosphere at one of the key events in the country’s sporting calendar.”
Trevor Jackson, president of Melrose RFC, said: “The Borders Railway is a fantastic way for visitors to travel to The Aberdeen Asset Management Melrose Sevens.
“Visitors will be able to relax and enjoy the scenic route all the way from Waverley Station, through Midlothian and into the Scottish Borders. Once at Tweedbank, people will have the choice of jumping on a shuttle bus for the short trip to Melrose or enjoying a beautiful walk along the River Tweed to get to the event.”
ScotRail Alliance commercial director Cathy Craig said: “It’s great that Borders Railway can help rugby fans travel to watch the Melrose 7s and I hope we’ll be welcoming many more of them this year.
“The new line grows in popularity and, every single day, it’s enabling people to commute, visit family and friends and travel to the likes of the Melrose 7s. I ask everyone who’s intending to travel by train to the matches on April 8 to plan ahead, buy their tickets in advance and arrive at the station in plenty of time, as services will be busy that day.”
The Borders Railway opened in September 2015 following a £294 million investment by the Scottish Government to re-establish passenger railway services between Edinburgh through Midlothian to Tweedbank for the first time since 1969.
The development includes 30 miles of railway and seven stations with a timetable offering half-hourly services on weekdays and Saturdays, including peak time cross-Edinburgh services to and from Fife.
Tickets for the 134th anniversary annual Aberdeen Asset Management Melrose Sevens are available from melrose7s.com. Twenty teams from across Scotland will compete in the tournament, alongside guest teams from Harlequins and Sweden this year.
For more information on the event, visit www.visitscotland.com/info/events/aberdeen-asset-management-melrose- sevens-p1430391
Pictured are Melrose players Grant Runciman, left, abnd captain Bruce Colvine in a new Sevens playing kit at Edinburgh’s Waverley Station.