Rugby: All-change for Gala Sevens

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GALA will launch a new ‘World Series’ type sevens event this year with the inclusion of Edinburgh professionals in a fresh effort to reverse the decline of sevens crowds.

The Borders club have witnessed a rise in attendance figures at Netherdale this season as the club contests the RBS Premiership crown with Ayr, and competed in the British and Irish Cup for the first time. They will also host the Scotland under-20s match with their Italian counterparts in a fortnight and Gala have now revealed a new approach to their traditional sevens, to be held this year on 6 April.

Admitting that there are too many sevens tournaments for the number of rugby supporters, Gala moved last year to a pool format in an effort to provide more ties for each team. This year they are to expand on that and mirror the world sevens series by ensuring that not only do the winners in each of the four pools progress to cup semi-finals, but the runners-up qualify for plate semi-finals and the third-placed teams go through to knockout stages in a bowl event.

The finals of the cup, plate and bowl will be played under floodlights while the semi-finals of the Plate and Bowl will take place on the back pitches at Netherdale.

Club president George Marshall said: “Every team taking part will be guaranteed at least three games and 50 per cent will have at least four games. I hope this will be more attractive to players and spectators.

“The bottom line is that we have too many sevens tournaments. This has been a traditional way of raising money for the clubs, but it’s the same customers they’re chasing.”