Classic Melrose Sevens: Blanco in scoring form as French Barbarians win in style
Stewarts’-Melville FP 18 - 28 French Barbarians
SEVENS form and technique were thrown out the window at the Greenyards on Saturday the French Barbarians, displaying great pace and amazing versatility, won the Melrose Centenary sevens in front of a crowd of ove 16,000, most of whom had been there for seven hours.
The French rarely play sevens, but their Barbarians had the speed which not only earned them tries from their own 22, but was crucial in their defence.
It also did not appear to matter in which positions some of them played. During their five ties the French used nine players, Philippe Dintrans going off after the second round with a badly cut nose and mouth – the result of an accidental, but dangerous boot – while Didier Camberabero missed the final because of a hand injury.
The first replacement was Jean-Baptiste Lafond, who went on to the wing with Serge Blanco at centre, Camberabero at scrum-half and Jean-Pierre Elissalde at hooker.
Then in the final, Eric Fourniol played played on the wing, Elissalde reverted to scrum-half and stand-off Patrick Mesny took over the hooking duties. Incidentally, Fourniol was a French B replacement at Dundee last month.
All these changes did not matter to the French. In an exciting final against Stewart’s-Melville FP they were soon behind when an Andy Blackwood break let in Simon Scott for a try converted by Douglas Morgan. But with his first touch of the ball, Fourniol raced 70 metres to score, Blanco adding the conversion.
From the Colleges’ kick-off, Marc Andrieu collected, chipped ahead and regained possession to cross for a superb try, which Blanco converted. Blackwood cut the deficit to 10-12 with a try in the corner, but just before half-time Elissalde blocked Morgan’s attempted kick ahead; picked up and sent Mesny in for a try.
After the interval Blackwood scored one of the best tries of the tournament. Scott did well to get down and stop a Blanco kick and chase deep in the Colleges’ own half. The centre slipped the ball to Blackwood who sprinted up the touchline for a glorious try.
Minutes later, however, with Colleges pressing, Fourniol jinked round Blackwood on his own line and ran the length of the field to score. Blanco converted , as he did Lafond’s try. Before the whistle went Blackwood ran in his third try of the final.
Blanco emerged as the French Babas’ top scorer with two tries and 15 conversions with the impressive Camberabero notching most tries, four. The only player not to score was the genial Jean-Luc Joinel who just strolled and joked his way through the day.
But despite Joinel’s attitude there’s no doubt the French came to win. They were almost put out first round by a spirited Watsonians side, but scraped through with a Mesny try in the last second. Stewart’s-Melville’s best moments came in the semi-final against a very confident Kelso side, for whom Roger Baird had scored four tries in their first two games. Kelso actually led 14-0 into the second half before a Finlay Calder try, converted by Morgan, heralded Colleges’ fightback.
Blackwood scored in the corner, Morgan converted and then, with the referee looking at his watch, Morgan nipped blind from a scrum and sent Douglas Wylie in for his fourth try of the day. Blackwood emerged as the tournament’s leading try-scorer with six, while Morgan, the best scrum-half, weighed in with 33 points (a try, a penalty and 13 conversions). Though they were beaten in the final it was still a good day for the the Colleges and augurs well for their defence of the Middlesex Cup in a few weeks’ time.
However, it was anything but a good day for the British Barbarians who were put out first go by a spirited Royal High side. The Baa-Baas, fielding five caps, lacked guts and two tries by Steve Carvel and a lung-bursting effort by prop Dougie Denham, who repeated the feat in the second round, were enought to put the guest side out. Royal High certainly earned their ovation.
Jed-Forest did well to beat Boroughmuir after being 0-12 down, and then Robbie Lindores scored a tremendous try to put them through in extra time against South Glamorgan Institute. They were then beaten by a very competent Richmond side, for whom Kerry Bassom, a speedy winger, scored three tries and his replacement Martin Humberstone four.
Heriot’s FP defeated Hawick for the second week running and again by a single score. The crucial moment in this tie came when Jim Renwick took a quick kick-off to himself only to be downed by a great tackle by Douglas Livingstone, a burly prop.
Stewarts-Melville: A Blackwood, S Scott, D Wyllie, D Morgan, A Brewster, D Brewster, F Calder.
French Barbarians: E Fourniol, S Blanco, J-B Lafond, J-P Elissalde, J-L Joinel, P Mesny, M Andriou.