New Melrose coach eyes sevens crown

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MELROSE’S new coach John Dalziel believes lifting the Kings of the Sevens title this afternoon would go a long way to making up for this season’s disappointments in the league and cup.

However, the international sevens cap believes that Border clubs have to rethink the number of tournaments and entertainment that is on offer. Melrose head to the Mainetti Jed-Forest Sevens finale atop the DS Dalgleish Kings of the Sevens table with 45 points, just ahead of Watsonians (41), Gala (39) and Selkirk (35).

Dalziel said: “This is huge for us. There is a terrific desire for sevens at the club and the efforts of our youngsters and others who played in the first two weekends, when we were still involved in important league matches and Scottish Cup and Border League finals, has also been huge in giving us this chance.

“We have won the Kings title twice in the last three years and both times it came down to the final at Jed, and it could be the same again. There are great Borders teams desperate to win Jed, and Watsonians and Edinburgh Accies have been brilliant too, so winning it would mean a lot at the end of a tough season.”

It is actually too tough a season now, according to Dalziel, who will soon head off with the Scotland under-20s to the Junior World Championships, and he would like to see changes.

“It has been great to see clubs being bold and trying changes, but my view is that bringing Kelso and Selkirk into the spring has created too many tournaments.

“I see players desperate to play spending the week getting patched up and asking for more physio to ease knocks and injuries. The season is too long, and to have tournaments on Saturdays and Sundays, a lot of running with big physical guys, is too much.

“We need a good think about sevens. The IRB pool formats at Gala and Kelso were worth a try, but from a player’s perspective at this level, if you’re beaten you can normally have a great social day, a bit of fun, whereas with these you have to hang around for ages for more ties and the motivation goes.

“We also need to do more to attract crowds. I’ve really enjoyed the razzamatazz at IRB sevens, and I think we have to ask ourselves who we’re putting these tournaments on for. Is it just serious rugby fans, or should we be thinking more about what younger people want and how we get them enjoying sevens?” In Glasgow, Cartha Queen’s Park has embraced that idea with a feast of family entertainment at Dumbreck building their event into the NCS Glasgow City 7s and attracting crowds well into four figures.

This afternoon, a star-studded Glasgow Warriors team join Munster, 
Saracens and the Scottish Legacy Sevens Series leaders Howe of Fife, Glasgow Hawks, Stirling County, Whitecraigs, GHA, Cartha Queen’s Park, Boroughmuir, Dundee HSFP, Hillhead Jordanhill, Ayr, Hamilton and Stewart’s Melville (kick-off 1pm).

The Jed-Forest “Friendly” Sevens do benefit, however, from being the final event in the Borders and the “Kings of the Sevens” finale.

Dalziel added: “This will be a really competitive tournament to finish, and all we’re focused on is our first tie with Hillhead/Jordanhill.

“I’ve seen plenty of sides come in under the radar and cause surprises so we’re not looking at any crowns yet.”

Mainetti Jed-Forest Sevens (first tie 1.30pm): Jed-Forest v Berwick, Heriot’s v Hawick, Hamilton v Langholm, Watsonians v Peebles, Falkirk v Selkirk, Melrose v Hillhead/Jordanhill.