A day of sporting activity provided the perfect complement to the official opening of the new 3G playing surface at The Greenyards, home of Melrose Rugby FC.
With Melrose’s squad, the Southern Knights, embarking this coming Saturday on their opening quest in the brand-new FOSROC Super 6s semi-pro tournament, with a home game against Watsonians, the pitch was officially declared open by the much-loved and respected ex-Melrose and Scotland rugby star, Doddie Weir.
A variety of football and rugby teams of assorted ages, featuring boys and girls, enjoyed some action on the surface over the course of the day, while the Southern Knights held an open training session and Melrose Rugby also played their Tennent’s National League One game against Stirling Wolves, which the home side won 31-19.
The new facility will provide an all-year-round playing surface, which is expected to provide a range of community benefits to local sports clubs and schools and to increase participation.
The project was carried forward by Melrose Rugby and Scottish Borders Council, with support from Scottish Rugby and the charity Live Borders.
Thanking all the partners involved, Melrose Rugby’s president, Douglas Brown, said it was “wonderful” that Doddie Weir was in attendance and said he was a “very appropriate and very obvious choice” to perform for the ceremony of dedication.
After the formalities, Doddie said it was “truly fantastic” to have such a facility on the club’s doorstep.
“Sometimes, you have got to embrace change, maybe a change which people don’t like, but having an all-weather pitch in the Borders is truly amazing,” he added. “An example would be – my boy played on Tuesday night against Peebles. That would not be possible before, even if there were floodlights.
Now to have kids playing football on a Saturday morning and other sporting activities is truly fantastic.”
Doddie added that the advent of Super 6 represented an exciting time for his former club.
“There was a big gulf between club and professional – now the Super 6 can make that gulf a bit smaller,” he said. “It can give people an opportunity to be semi-pro rugby players and allow more people into the game and be paid for what they enjoy. More people playing is good for the game of rugby.”
Doddie continued: “Here at Melrose, I have a lot to be thankful for. It’s been fantastic to be invited here, and what they did for myself when I played here has been truly amazing.
“Going back over the memories I have, I’m pretty certain there will be a lot more, with the youth of today here in front of us, the Super 6 and all the kids playing here. There are exciting times ahead.”
Doddie was also deeply grateful to Melrose Rugby for a new on-jersey endorsement of the My Name’5 Doddie Foundation, the charity co-founded by Doddie to help with research, awareness and funding treatment after he was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease.