Melrose unveils new expanded rugby sevens festival

The popular Melrose Sevens rugby tournament is expanding next year to become a four-day festival with extra competitions and entertainment
The popular Melrose Sevens rugby tournament is expanding next year to become a four-day festival with extra competitions and entertainment
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An internationally renowned rugby tournament in the Scottish Borders is set to be bigger than ever when it kicks off as a new four-day festival for the first time next April.

The popular Melrose Sevens, which attracts more than 12,000 spectators, has traditionally been held on the second Saturday in April.
But its 2020 outing will see an expanded programme of competitions, music and entertainment rolled out over four days.
The move comes as part of an ambitious plan for Melrose to host the Rugby World Cup Sevens in 2033 - marking the 150th anniversary of the game’s invention in the Borders town.
The game was the brainchild of Borders butcher Ned Haig, with the first match held at the Melrose Rugby ground at Greenyards in 1883.
Since then it has rocketed in popularity, with teams and tournaments being set up around the world.
“This is our Sevens 20/20 vision,” said Phil Morris, commercial and marketing director of Melrose Rugby.
“We’re going to put on a fantastic event, maintaining all the rugby traditions we all hold dear but adding new exciting competitions and entertainment.
“We want our sevens tournament to be inclusive and fun. Whether or not you’re a die-hard rugby fan, there’s going to be something for everyone, young and old.
“Melrose is where rugby sevens was born in 1883. In 2020, we’re taking things to another level.”
The revamped event will open on Thursday 9 April with a concert headlined by a well-known band.
The rugby will kick-off the following day with an under-18s tournament featuring teams from schools in the UK and overseas.
Evening entertainment will include the A Question of Rugby quiz, with teams made up of past and present rugby stars.
The traditional sevens matches will be played on the Saturday as usual, when teams will compete for the Ladies Centenary Cup, as well as a brand new semi-professional tournament.
The final day will see a ladies’ tournament, plus games for the Ned Haig Cup, culminating in a live gig fronted by a Scottish artist.
Mike Dalgetty, director of rugby at Melrose, added: “We have big ambitions at Melrose, on and off the field.
“There’s a real energy and buzz about the place and it’s exciting to be part of that.
“We’re so proud of our heritage as the home of amateur rugby sevens.
“We’ve proved year-after-year that we can put on a top-class tournament that is enjoyed by spectators and visiting teams from around the world.
“We will never take our eye off what has always made the Melrose Sevens so special. Those traditions will remain.
“But our 2020 tournament is going to be bigger than ever before. We can’t wait to put a spotlight on Melrose in April next year, when we’ll host a vibrant new rugby event.”
The first-ever officially sanctioned tournament for national teams was the 1973 International Seven-A-Side Tournament, held at Murrayfield as part of the Scottish Rugby Union's Celebration of Rugby centenary celebrations.
The Rugby World Cup Sevens, in which the Melrose Cup is contested, was launched in 1993, and sevens is now both an Olympic and Commonwealth Games sport.
The women’s World Rugby Sevens series began in 2012.
Hong Kong has been staging its own successful sevens tournament since 1976.