Taste of the Caribbean for Melrose Sevens

Saracens celebrate after retaining the title last year. Picture: Ian Rutherford
Saracens celebrate after retaining the title last year. Picture: Ian Rutherford
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TEAMS from the United States, the Caribbean and France will add the foreign glamour to this year’s Aberdeen Asset Melrose Sevens – the 124th staging of the famous event.

The world’s oldest sevens tournament – which was founded in the Borders town by Ned Haig in 1883 – takes place on 12 April this year and Clermont Auvergne will return hoping to go one better than last year when they finished runners-up to Saracens.

In addition, the USA Tigers, Trinidad & Tobago and Glasgow Warriors will compete for the first time.

With excitement building for the Commonwealth Games Sevens at Ibrox in the summer, the “Calypso Warriors” of Trinidad & Tobago will use the event as an important stepping stone in their preparations.

Melrose Sevens convener, Ian Cooper, said: “With Clermont Auvergne eager to improve on their position of 2013, together with USA Tigers and Glasgow Warriors I feel that any one of a dozen sides is capable of winning this year’s tournament.

“Add to that the unknown quantity of Trinidad and Tobago and I believe we can look forward to yet another outstanding afternoon of top quality sevens rugby.”

Glasgow Warriors head coach Gregor Townsend – a proud Gala man – added: “This is a first for the club and it’s a real honour to be invited to play at this year’s Melrose 7s.

“I have great memories of playing in the tournament and it is recognised globally as one of the best rugby events – a real not-to-be-missed occasion.”

Townsend was part of the Gala team that won the tournament in 1994, beating Melrose 19-5 in the semi-finals and Wasps 17-10 in the final.

It was the first time that the Maroons had won the event at their near neighbours since 1981.

The USA Tigers is a touring development sevens team for American rugby and coach James Walker said: “We are extremely excited to be invited to the Melrose Sevens.

“It has personally been a dream of mine to play there one day, and I feel incredibly humbled and honored to be able to take the Tigers there to compete.

“It will be a daunting prospect with some excellent competition from the Scottish teams alone, before taking into account the professional clubs. This is what we created Tiger Rugby for in the first place, and we will certainly be looking to put our best foot forward.”

Scottish clubs Gala, Hawick, Jed-Forest, Kelso, Langholm, Peebles, Selkirk, Ayr, Boroughmuir, Currie, Heriot’s, Watsonians, Aberdeen GSFP, Dundee HSFP, Glasgow Hawks, Howe of Fife, Edinburgh Academicals, Stewart’s Melville, Stirling County and hosts Melrose complete the line-up of 24 teams.

Aberdeen Asset Management will continue as main sponsor for the 2014 event and chief executive Martin Gilbert commented: “Aberdeen Asset Management is proud to be associated with such a historic and much-loved Scottish sporting event, especially in the year of the Commonwealth Games and of Homecoming.

“The Melrose Sevens attracts teams from not only Scotland but from all parts of the world and supports emerging Commonwealth playing countries.

“It’s a special occasion for players to play for the Ladies’ Cup in the town where the Sevens game was born. It’s a great day for players and supporters alike and in this our third year of sponsorship, we’re delighted to be involved.”

The draw will take place at the Greenyards on Saturday, 22 March.