Kings of the Sevens: Auld Stars roll back the years at Earlston

Invitational side made up of former Scotland 7s star triumph at The Haugh

Former Scotland 7s star Mark Robertson isn action for the Auld Stars team at Earlston Sevens. Image: Rob Gray
Former Scotland 7s star Mark Robertson isn action for the Auld Stars team at Earlston Sevens. Image: Rob Gray

THE AULD STARS added their name to the list of distinguished winners of the Earlston Sevens after defeating Melrose by a narrow margin in an exciting final at The Haugh yesterday [Sunday], capping what was a successful tournament staged by the Berwickshire club. 

Victory for the team of past Scotland international sevens players brought together by one of the country’s best ever exponents of the short game, Scott Wight, certainly proved that age need not be a barrier even if there is some loss of pace and strength.

Outstanding for the Auld Stars was Mark Robertson, who was one of five players in the their team to have savoured the famous World Series win at Twickenham back in 2016 when Scotland came from behind to defeat South Africa.


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“Today was a great final but it’s easy to forget that these [Melrose] boys played four games yesterday [at Kelso] and then four games today. They kind of knew what to expect because I help out coaching them,” said Robertson, who admitted that he had done little training for this tournament.

“It’s seven years since I’ve made a tackle or played a game.  A few of us have done three weeks of running but really we were running on adrenalin out there. But you know we’ve trained together so often in the past that we didn’t have to think. You understand the moves,” explained Robertson.

In the final itself a try by Roddy Grant gave the Auld Stars the start they wanted but two converted tries for Melrose by Connor Spence and Bruce Colvine suggested that the veteran stars might struggle.

That notion was soon scotched as first Lee Jones and then Robertson sprinted in for touchdowns both converted by Wight for a 19-14 interval advantage. The lead was extended with an early second half try by James Johnstone converted by Struan Hutchison but two lightning finishes, both converted, by player of the tournament Harry Makowski on either side of an Alex Blair try showed Melrose at their best. However, it was just not quite enough to prevent the Auld Stars lifting the Earlston title.

 

 

If the Auld Stars went away with winners medals the real beneficiaries from the tournaments at Earlston and, 24 hours earlier at Kelso were Melrose who have put themselves into a strong position to retain their Kings of the Sevens title with two rounds of the series remaining.

The Greenyards side now sit only five points behind leaders Kelso and judging by their form over this weekend they will challenge their Border rivals all the way in what promises to be an exciting finish to the competition.

“We call this ‘moving weekend’ in the Kings because this is generally the weekend that makes a difference,” explained the Melrose coach, Iain Chisholm. “If you do well over the Kelso/Earlston weekend you give yourselves the best chance of winning the Kings of the Sevens and we’ve done that today.

 

 

“We clawed back what was a big deficit in the table. We’re disappointed we didn’t win at Earlston [after victory at Kelso] but I think it was just one tie too far for us.

“The Auld Stars are big and physical guys and obviously have a lot of rugby intelligence having done it for a living. But we’re looking forward to Selkirk and then Jed when we’ll be trying to retain our title,” stated Chisholm.

The Auld Stars came through the first two rounds with comfortable wins over the host club Earlston and Edinburgh Accies before facing a determined Gala side in the first of the semi-finals, eventually winning 24-19 against the Maroons.

For their part, Melrose lived on the edge defeating Watsonians 31-26 in sudden death extra time and then scraping past the defending champions Durham University by a single point in a 21-20 victory, the student side outscoring the Greenyards men four-three in the try-count but paying the price for poor goal kicking.

 

Kelso Sevens Results:

  • Pool A: Selkirk 45 South District 12, GAC 7s 22 South District 33, GAC7s 0 Selkirk 52.
  • Pool B: Kelso 38 Watsonians 0, Berwick 12 Watsonians 19, Berwick 5 Kelso 45.
  • Pool C: Gala 14 Edinburgh Accies 14, Heriot’s 31 Edinburgh Accies 7, Heriot’s 26 Gala 7.
  • Pool D: Melrose 33 Jed-Forest 12, Peebles 24 Jed-forest 19, Peebles 14 Melrose 38.
  • Semi-finals: Selkirk 14 Kelso 17, Heriot’s 7 Melrose 17.
  • Final: Kelso 15 Melrose 24

 

Earlston Sevens Results:  

  • Round 1: Gala 45 Boroughmuir 7, Selkirk 17 Jed-Forest 19, Berwick 12 Edinburgh Accies 37, Earlston 0 Auld Stars 47, GAC 7s 0  Heriot’s 36, Kelso 15 Edinburgh University 31, Durham University 52 Peebles 12, Melrose 31 Watsonians 26 (AET).
  • Quarter-finals: Gala 24 Jed-Forest 15, Edinburgh Accies 7 Auld Stars 22, Heriot’s 12 Edinburgh University 7,  Durham University 20 Melrose 21.
  • Semi-finals: Gala 19 Auld Stars 24, Heriots 5 Melrose 29.
  • Final: Auld Stars 31 Melrose 28
    • Auld Stars: N Godsmark, R Grant, T Brown, J Johnstone, A Blair, M Robertson, J Fleming, J Nayacavou, L Jones, S Wight
    • Melrose: H Weir, C Spence, C Fairbairn, B Colvine, S Hutchison, R Stanley, S Clark, A Pilcher, M Bertram, H Makowski

 

Kings of the Sevens table after 8 rounds:

  1. Kelso 47   
  2. Melrose 42
  3. Gala 38
  4. Selkirk 27
  5. Jed-Forest 18
  6. Heriot’s 16
  7. Peebles 15
  8. Watsonians and Edinburgh Accies 11
  9. Hawick 10

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About Alan Lorimer 358 Articles
Scotland rugby correspondent for The Times for six years and subsequently contributed to Sunday Times, Daily and Sunday Telegraph, Scotsman, Herald, Scotland on Sunday, Sunday Herald and Reuters. Worked in Radio for BBC. Alan is Scottish rugby journalism's leading voice when it comes to youth and schools rugby.

1 Comment

  1. Nowhere else more suitable for it, so a mention to Greenock Wanderers RFC, who hosted their 150th Anniversary 7’s tournament on Saturday. An excellent day for grassroots rugby.

    Great to see a lot young talented squads turning out. A few u20’s on show that would surely enhance the national age group squads, if the net was ever widened…

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