15-16 June 2018 - Roma Seven 2018 - International Rugby Sevens Tournament | Italian version   
One Man and His Game. How and when did the game of Sevens start.
Tradition has it, for there are no authoritative documents of the period extant today, that in 1883 Melrose Football Club was casting around for ideas to help the Club's finances when the suggestion of a football tournament was put forward by the now legendary 'NED' HAIG.

Ned Haig was born in Jedburgh on 7th December, 1858, and came to Melrose as a youth. At first he was not particularly attracted to the game of Rugby but after participation in Fastern's E'en Ba he developed an interest and taste for the sport. Haig first played for the Club in 1880 in the second team with an occasional sortie in the Firsts, the first of these being against Earlston at the Annual Hiring Fair there.

One year later he was a regular member of the First team and also made appearances for the South. When Haig's playing days came to an end he continued to take an active part in The Club and served for several seasons on the General and Match Committee. Ned Haig had a long life and died on 28th March, 1939, just shortly before the by now popular Melrose Sports at The Greenyards; the very event that he was instrumental in initiating.

In an article "An old Melrose Player's Recollections", written most probably in 1907/1908, Haig says: "Want of money made us rack our brains as to what was to be done to keep the Club from going to the wall, and the idea struck me that a football tournament might prove attractive but as it was hopeless to think of having several games in one afternoon with fifteen players on each side, the teams were reduced to seven men."
It is not now possible to say whether a football tournament with athletic events, or athletic events with a football tournament was the original idea.

Whatever the truth of the matter may be, generations of spectators and players have been grateful that the Melrose Sports were started and included a football tournament. Originally the "seven men" comprised a full back, two quarter-backs and four forwards but with the development of the passing game the forwards were reduced to three and an extra half-back played.
The "Football Competition", however was the main attraction and a cup was presented for it by "The Ladies of Melrose". On 28th April, 1883, the first Melrose Sports were held.

By the time this event, the chief one of the day, commenced an enormous crowd of spectators had assembled, special trains having been run from Galashiels and Hawick and about 1600 tickets had been taken at Melrose during the day. Melrose and Gala were left to decide the result of the final.

They played for fifteen minutes, a fast and rough game but as nothing was scored it was agreed by the Captains to play another quarter of an hour. After ten minutes ply Melrose obtained a try and left the field without either trying to their goal or finishing the game, claiming the cup.

Whilst the idea of the Sevens game came from Ned Haig the first participants of the first ever Sevens Tournament must also in no small way share in that historic day. Without them there would have been no tournament and their names are therefore worthy of being recorded:

Gala: A. J. Sanderson, J. Hewat, W. Rae, W. Wear, T. Oliver, J. Waid and T. Smith.
Selkirk: T. Edgar, G. Park, J. Douglas, J. Gallacher, A. McBain, J. Hardie and A. Hogg.
St. Cuthbert's: D. Miller, J. Miller, J. Ogg, W. Miller, W. Rae, T. Amos and J. Pennycook.
Earlston: J. Wilson, W. Greig, A. Hunter, J. Burrell, W. Kerr, J. Robertson and W. Davidson.
St. Ronans: I nomi non sono mai stati registrati.
Gala Forest: W. Spiers, A. Dobson, W. Dryden, M. Innes, J. Dobson, J. Lees and Donaldson.
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