Spectators at the Greenyards were left disappointed when the Melrose v Ayr BT Premiership match was called off by the visitors seconds before kick-off.
The teams had already been announced and the coin tossed when the match was postponed after Ayr judged that the pitch unplayable.
Calum Forrester, the Ayr coach, said: “Our players were not comfortable with the pitch. Ultimately it’s their safety and if they’re not happy then we’re not happy. It was just areas of the pitch. It felt as though it was getting more firm as we went through the warm-up.
Forrester refuted suggestions the Millbrae side had pulled out because they were not at full strength in their back division. “I was fully confident in the squad we had today,” he said. “We showed last week with the same group of players how well we can perform. So that’s got nothing to do with it. Bottom line is that we were not happy with the pitch today.”
The Melrose director of rugby, Mike Dalgetty, was less charitable. He said: “I’ve been involved in rugby for 30 years and this is something I’ve never come across before. The pitch is absolutely playable as far as I’m concerned and as far as our players are concerned. You could take a pitch fork and drop it from six inches and it sticks in the ground.
“The rules are that if Ayr refuse to play you can’t interfere. Ayr are a club I hugely respect but less so after today.”
The 2nd XV match between Melrose and Ayr went ahead on a nearby pitch.