The Melrose Sevens trophy returned to the Capital for the first time in 14 years on Saturday as the Edinburgh Rugby pro team proved too strong and ran out deserved winners.
It was a dream outcome for Roddy Grant, who landed the first piece of silverware in a coaching career that is just a few months old.
The former flanker, who had to retire with a knee injury at the end of last year, took charge of Edinburgh’s debut at the famous tournament and was bursting with pride after watching his side beat Jed-Forest 29-19 in the final.
“It was an amazing day,” said Grant after watching his skipper Chris Dean lift the trophy. “Really tough with a couple of 20 minute turnarounds between games and only three subs which prevents challenges that we are not used to in the World Series, so it just highlights how amazing these guys are – professional or amateur.
“Everybody has played so much rugby and to come along here at the end of the season and put in that sort of effort makes you proud to be a part of the sport.
“It was amazing for the guys. We didn’t have much preparation, so it was just about digging deep and pulling through as a team fighting for each other.
“It’s an amazing tournament. The fans are great, the atmosphere is fantastic, the history is really special, so the guys really wanted to come in and make the most of the opportunity. They really wanted to win it.
“They are born competitors so this was a great day for them.”
Edinburgh’s Pacific Island contingent of Tonga pair Will Helu and Otulea Katoa and Samoan Sasa Tofilau were instrumental in the triumph, all scoring tries in the final, with Sam Beard and man of the tournament Nathan Fowles also crossing.
A gutsy effort from Jed-Forest, who went into the last tie of the day hoping for a first title since 1974, made the pros work for their bounty. The impressive Ross Combe and Iain Chisholm scored second-half tries which kept it competitive.
Fowles, who contributed brilliant tries, conversions and scintillating running lines all afternoon, admitted it had not been easy. “It was tiring. I’m not going to lie, we were knackered by the end of it, but it’s been a brilliant day,” he said.
“We’ve had a few young guys there, and some others like myself who have not played much rugby recently, so it was great to get an opportunity to go out there and express ourselves.
“We played Gala Sevens last week and got beat by Melrose, so we learned a lot from that tournament. Obviously we are not all Sevens players, but the likes of Damian Hoyland and Chris Dean who have played on the World Series circuit had an influence.
“The boys just showcased what they can do individually and we are so tight as a club; we work hard for each other no matter what.”
The wait for an Edinburgh club side to win the event for the first time since Boroughmuir in 2002 goes on and Edinburgh Accies went furthest on Saturday, losing in the semi-finals to Jed-Forest
Watsonians suffered an agonising sudden death loss to the hosts in the quarter-finals.
First round: Howe of Fife 5 Edinburgh Accies 27; Peebles 17 Boroughmuir 29; Hawick 5 Selkirk 21; Glasgow Hawks 15 Aberdeen Rugby 19; Kelso 12 Watsonians 45; Currie 22 Dundee High 5; Marr 24 Stirling County 5; GHA 28 Stewart’s Melville 17
Second round: Edinburgh Accies 33 Ayr 17; Boroughmuir 12 Gala 33; Selkirk 10 Jed-Forest 24; Aberdeen Rugby 14 Belgium 34; Watsonians 24 Seventise 19; Currie 12 Melrose 17; Marr 21 Heriot’s 22; GHA 14 Edinburgh Rugby 36
Quarter-finals: Edinburgh Accies 28 Gala 14; Belgium 14 Jed-Forest 24; Watsonians 24 Melrose 29; Heriot’s 0 Edinburgh Rugby 22
Semi-finals: Jed-Forest 31 Edinburgh Accies 15; Melrose 24 Edinburgh Rugby 26
Final: Jed-Forest 19 Edinburgh Rugby 29