THE MELROSE SEVENS returns for the first time since April 2019 this coming weekend and the tournament organisers are determined that it will not be a lowkey step back towards normality following it’s long Covid lay-off.
An ambitious four-day schedule is being laid on which involves:
- a gala dinner sponsored by Jackson Distillers at the Greenyards tomorrow [Thursday] night to induct Fijian great Waisale Serevi and other sevens legends into the Melrose Sevens Hall of Fame.
- a charity seven-aside match on Friday night featuring a host of international heroes from yesteryear including Gregor Townsend, Bryan Redpath, Iwan Tukalo, Freddie Tuilagi, Tom Varndell, David Hilton, Ally Hogg and Allan Bateman, as well as Doddie Weir’s three sons Hamish, Angus and Ben. Kick off is 7.30pm, tickets are £10, and all proceeds will go to the ‘my name’5 Doddie Foundation’, followed by a pre-season clash between Super6 sides Southern Knights and Boroughmuir Bears.
- a party night on Friday evening in Gibson Pavilion featuring The Commitments and DJs.
- the 1883 Centenary Cup knockout tournament during the day on Saturday featuring 19 Scottish clubs and seven guest sides, first tie is at 10.50am and final is at 7.30pm, followed by further entertainment at the Greenyards stretching into the evening.
- Bombskare and Big Country in concert at the Gibson Pavilion on Sunday evening.
- Tickets for all individual events are available HERE.
“It’s always busy in the week before the Melrose Sevens, but nothing at a level we didn’t anticipate,” said tournament director Phil Morris yesterday, during a quick breather from making sure everything is in place for the four-day event.
“We’ve got a slightly new format, there are issues with Covid, so there is quite a lot of change to deal with. It is just about making sure that you react sensibly and calmly to things as they happen.
“Ticket sales are strong so people are clearly wanting to see the event back and looking forward to it. I think Saturday, especially, is going to be a bumper day.
“We’ve not really been able to bring the semi-professional teams [Super6] in the way we had planned to, and clearly there are still plenty of countries where people can’t travel as easily as we would all want them to, so it is a slight compromise in terms of the schedule we’d looked at for 2020,” he added. “But we’re pretty pleased with where it has ended up, and I think everyone is very thirsty to get back out and enjoy the event again.
“It is noticeable in Melrose and the surrounding areas that there is a real buzz about the while weekend, which is good to see.”
One of the big attractions during the main event on Saturday afternoon is bound to be the Co-Optimists invitational team, who won the tournament in 1993 with a side featuring Doddie Weir, Gregor Townsend and Derek Turnbull, and who are fielding some big names from the current world stage this year, including Kenyan star Collins Injera, who is the second top try-scorer in World Rugby Series history with 279, and South African sevens legend Cecil Afrika.
The other guest sides are: Lomaiviti 7s from Fiji, Samurai, Seventise from, Belgian National Rugby 7s, London Scottish Lions and the British Army.
“We were approached by the Co-optimists to see if we would consider giving them an invite, and they talked about bringing a strong side, so we were very keen to see them back at the Greenyards,” explained Morris. “They are bringing, by the look of it, a more than competitive team, and I’m really looking forward to seeing guys like Cecil Afrika and Collins Injera out there on the new 3G pitch, because these guys have fantastic footwork and pace so it is going to be great to see them showcase their talents on that surface.
“We were very keen to make sure that we didn’t come back in a subdued way,” he added. “We wanted to give it a bit of stardust through making sure we have players here from a number of sides who the supporters can really get excited about watching in action. And don’t forget that there are a lot of very good Scottish players coming to the event as well, who I am sure are also keen to put on a show.
“People have always been very supportive of Melrose as a tournament and hopefully we can put on a spectacle to remind everyone what a great and unique event it is.
“That’s why we’ve done things like the dinner on Thursday night. The Sevens Hall of Fame is an exciting concept and we believe we have a responsibility to ensure that Scotland maintains its place at the heart of the game. We’re trying to showcase the best of Scottish rugby and trying to help promote its profile on the global stage both on and off the field.”
- Thursday 7 April: Melrose Sevens Hall of Fame Dinner – £40
- Friday 8 April :Rugby – £10 (donation to My Name’5 Doddie); Party Night – £20
- Saturday 9 April: General Entry (no seat) Adult – £25; Concessions – £15; Enclosure – £40; Main Stand – £50; Party Night – £20
- Sunday 10 April: Finale Concert – £25
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