JED-FOREST and Earlston are the latest Border clubs to announce that their annual Sevens tournaments have been postponed in response to the ongoing Covid-19 situation, following on from the lead set by Melrose and Gala on Tuesday.
Melrose were set to host a four-day event which would involve four distinct Sevens tournaments, plus concerts and other related entertainment, on the weekend of 9th to 12th April.
Gala, meanwhile, were due to launch their ‘Maroon’d at Gala’ multi-sport community event involving over 1,200 participants on Saturday 18th April, which was to involve rugby at every level from primary school age through under-14s, under-16s, under-18s to senior and ladies sections, alongside football and running events.
Organisers of both tournaments state that this is a postponement rather than a cancellation, but it is not possible at this stage to put a time-frame on when the events will be able to go ahead.
“The evolving situation obliges us as a responsible organisation to take all reasonable measures to protect people’s health. That goes for the local community and for everyone that would be traveling to Melrose for the rugby and entertainment events,” said a Melrose spokesperson.
“Over the past few weeks we have been in close contact with participating teams who are understandably nervous about booking travel and accommodation at the moment. The Melrose Sevens has always attracted a diverse audience of all ages from across the UK and abroad. Given the increased threat of COVID-19 to older people in particular, we are not willing to take any chances.
“We understand this will be a bitter disappointment for everyone involved. All the hard working volunteers here at the club who have been preparing so hard for this year’s expanded Melrose Sevens festival are saddened and frustrated to be postponing, but public health must always come first.
“Melrose Rugby Ltd will now engage with all the teams and sponsors involved, and work with all parties to agree a date later this year that works for everyone. We would like to thank the Scottish Borders Council and Scottish Rugby for their tremendous support in this unprecedented situation. To be clear, we’re not contemplating cancelling the event at this time; just postponing to another date.”
“Postponing the Melrose Sevens will hurt the club financially as there are irretrievable and uninsurable costs. However we will get through this. This is a fast moving situation and we cannot plan with absolute certainty at the moment, so we would ask everyone who has purchased a ticket to be patient while we make alternative arrangements. We can confirm all tickets purchased will be valid for a rearranged date and we will communicate those details as soon as we are in a position to do so.”
The Scottish Rugby Union announced on Sunday that a £500,000 fund has been set up to offer financial assistance to grassroots clubs facing cashflow and immediate financial challenges through the impact of Coronavirus.
Gala president Ian Dalgleish said he was deeply disappointed that his club’s event has been cancelled, but accepted that it was the only decision which could be made in these unique circumstances.
“Once we became aware of the Scottish government’s guidance that there would be no provision of emergency services for events attended by over 500 people, we didn’t really have a choice,” he said. “This is an unprecedented situation and Gala rugby club want to do everything required to help contain the spread of the virus as much as possible. We will be able to give an update later in the week on when we hope to run the event, but obviously a lot of it is out of our hands for the time being.”
“It is a real shame from the club’s point of view because we had been really encouraged by the enthusiasm for ‘Maroon’d at Gala’ we were seeing throughout the town, and with the local council. Everyone was keen to support a genuine community event which was going to be free entry. We’ll bounce back, but for the time being we just have to look at the bigger picture and deal with what is in front of us.”
The Earlston tournament was supposed to be played on 3rd May, while the Jed tournament was due to bring the curtain down on the Kings of the 7s series on 25th May.
“The organising committee of the Jed-Forest 7s have made the decision that due to COVID 19 this years event which was due to be played on Saturday 16th May is now postponed,” said Jed club president Paul Cranston. “We will endeavour to try and find – an alternative date once the virus is contained but for the time being our main objective is make sure that there is no risk to the general public.”
There is no news at present about the Berwick Sevens which is scheduled to be played on Sunday 19th April, Langholm on 25th April, Kelso on 2nd May and Selkirk on 9th May.
Elsewhere, the popular Edinburgh Northern Sevens on 18th Aril at Inverleith Park has been cancelled.