As ever, The Greenyards looked resplendent in time for one of rugby’s truly special days. The signs that spring has sprung were evident, even if the weather was a couple of degrees short of where it might have been, but things were heated up by way of the superb live action on show in Melrose.
A day that would provide unexpected results by the bucketload threw up a first major shock when Edinburgh University, fresh from gaining a place in the main draw by virtue of winning the Rotary University Melrose Sevens at the beginning of April. They confidently did away with a poor Heriot’s team in a round one opener that clearly meant more to the students, who were excellent. The other big-hitters just about made it through to round two, where the Melrose Sevens action really kicks off in earnest.
Not since 2011 had a Scottish side managed to win rugby’s oldest sevens tournament but we had a guaranteed BT Premiership champion as Melrose went head-to-head with Watsonians at a packed Greenyards. As is tradition, the crowds grew throughout the afternoon, especially considering a local belief that their sons would be crowned winners a week after winning Scotland’s top flight.
Two excellent sevens sides produced a final befitting the occasion, with the Edinburgh men taking an early advantage through a Scott McKean try. Scotland Sevens cap Ross McCann replied for Melrose, with both opening tries being converted to tie things at 7 apiece, where it remained until the interval.
A boisterous crowd were anticipating a second-half Melrose onslaught but it remained tight, the teams again exchanging tries through Rory Steele and that man McCann. With time of the essence, Charlie McKill scored the decisive try to earn a 19-14 win and with it the Ladies Cup. Beating the hosts in the final of the Melrose Sevens is a rarity in itself, especially considering the quality available to The Greenyards team. For Watsonians, a ninth Melrose crown, and first win in the tournament since 1996, represented one of the Edinburgh club’s finest achievements in recent years. They also went to the top of the Kings of the Sevens standings after three rounds in a bid to retain a title won in 2017.
Read more about Watsonians’ success in SCRUM 106, out at the end of April!