Under-18 rugby sevens tarnished by player abuse

Jed Thistle 7's. Final Jed Thistle v Melrose Wasps
Jed Thistle 7's. Final Jed Thistle v Melrose Wasps

Melrose RFC president John Reed has called on semi-junior clubs to take action after its under-18 team suffered verbal abuse at Jed Thistle Sevens.

Sections of the Riverside Park crowd directed personal taunts at the Melrose Wasps side which defeated the hosts in the final.

Last Saturday’s tournament also witnessed underage drinking and four arrests for fighting as the Border Semi-Junior Sevens circuit c ame to a close.

Writing on the club’s website, Reed said: “In the name of rugby and fair play, the adults on our club committees must address this problem. Why should the boys who play, or their parents, have to endure some quite personal verbal abuse directed from the touchline?”

Jed Thistle president Colin Yourston confirmed club officials were due to meet last night to discuss “the good and bad points” of Saturday’s event.

He added: “We want to look at ways of improving the tournament so that it is an enjoyable afternoon for players and supporters.

“For the last few seasons we have been issuing letters to each club advising them alcohol is not allowed into the ground and we have a strong presence on the gates. We can ask if anyone is carrying drink and if they are found to be, it can be removed.”

A Police Scotland spokesman added: “Local officers attended at the Jed Thistle RFC ground during a sevens tournament on Saturday.

“A number of youths were found to be drinking underage and had various quantities of alcohol taken from them.

“Police also responded to reports of a fight at the event and four men aged 17, 18, 18 and 20 were arrested and issued with a fixed penalty notice for alleged breaches of the peace.”

Better news from Riverside Park is the appointment of new first XV head coach Brian Hughes. He has moved from Musselburgh and is now tasked with leading Jed back to the National League.

Hughes said: “I now live in Selkirk and all the travelling was taking a toll, so when Jed approached me to return it was hard to resist.

“I’m a Jed man and the opportunity to work with Kevin Barrie and Ali Campbell to hopefully get Jed back where we belong was really appealing.” Sevens report on page 84.