THE newly-introduced Melrose Sevens Women’s tournament will be played in conjunction with the traditional men’s tournament on Saturday 8th April, with participating teams competing for a trophy which will commemorate former club president and advocate of women’s rugby, Mike Bleasdale
“As a close-knit group of former players we are delighted that Melrose Rugby have agreed to name the Women’s Cup after a terrific man,” said Gillian Thomson, spokesperson for the Melrose Ladies ex-players group.
“Mike Bleasdale coached and led the Melrose Ladies rugby team for their entire 22-year existence. He was an incredible supporter of women in sport and particularly during the earlier years, he consistently challenged opinions and overcame barriers to promote and facilitate opportunity for women to play rugby.”
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“Mike’s commitment to the Melrose Ladies was rewarded with several Scottish league titles, National Plates and Bowls, and many Sevens tournament trophies. He coached several players through their developmental years and these players went on to achieve regional and Scotland age-group selection. Six former players have either previously, or currently play, for Scotland. Three have also gone on to represent Scotland Sevens, with one a current GB Sevens player and Olympian [Lisa Thomson].
“We thank the club for honouring a man who gave so much to women’s rugby and for ensuring Mike’s legacy will continue for years to come.”
The inaugural Mike Bleasdale Cup will be competed for on a knock-out basis by Durham University Women’s Rugby Club, Lionesses, DeltaDrone Tuks and Hearts+Balls MB, with the final being played just before the 1883 Cup Final on Saturday 8th April.
Meanwhile, Melrose have also announced that Lisa Thomson is to be the first ever woman inducted into the prestigious Melrose 7s Hall of Fame.
The 25-year-old from Hawick started her rugby career playing at Jed Minis, progressing through the pathways to East of Scotland under-18s, Scotland under-18 and under-20, whilst also being part of the Langholm team which won the Brewin Dolphin under-15 Cup in 2012. She also played for Murrayfield Wanderers under-18 before joining Melrose Ladies. She made her international debut against England at Broadwood in the 2016 Six Nations opener.
“I wouldn’t be where I am today without Melrose,” said Thomson. “It was my first adult club which gave me the opportunity to play at the highest level when I was 17. It was a huge honour to play for Melrose. I will forever be indebted to the club.
“Also Mike Bleasdale did so much for us and he did so much for me. He was always giving me extra coaching at the end of sessions and making sure I was always improving. I will forever be in debt to Melrose and it’s a huge honour to be inducted into the Hall of Fame. It means a lot.”
Former Hawick High School Head of PE and now host of Happiness is Egg shaped podcast, Bruce Aitchison. added: “It’s been fantastic to watch Lisa Thomson’s journey from the Borders all the way to Scotland and Scotland sevens and Great Britain at the Olympics. So to see her induced into the Hall of Fame is fantastic reward for all of her hard work. She is an amazing role model for all young rugby players in the Borders.”
Tickets for the Melrose Sevens are on sale now and available to purchase HERE.