The news last week that Walkerburn RFC would close just weeks before the centenary playing of its sevens was met with shock and disappointment throughout the rugby community. 

The club said in a statement that a "gradual decline in player numbers" coupled with an "overwhelming" workload on its committee meant its future was not sustainable. 

Scotland Rugby News: Last week's statement said the club would closeLast week's statement said the club would close (Image: Walkerburn RFC)

But the community far and wide has rallied around and the club has now confirmed its 100th sevens will go ahead after all. 

Former president Andrew Thoms is one of the people behind the revival. He had been involved with Walkerburn since 2001 but stepped back in the last couple of years due to work commitments.

He had plenty of experience of running the sevens and is back on the committee for this year’s tournament, which will now take place on May 25. 

Seven of the teams who were due to play have already agreed to take part with five more still in discussions about an appearance at Caberston Haugh. 

As well as a team from the host club and a presidents' seven, Gala YM, Lismore,  Caledonian Thebans, Penicuik and Earlston will all be involved. 

Scotland Rugby News: Crowds gathered at a previous Walkerburn SevensCrowds gathered at a previous Walkerburn Sevens (Image: Newsquest)

It’s taken a lot of effort to get it off the ground but Thoms is delighted the event will go ahead, admitting it was heartbreaking to discover its cancellation. 

Speaking to Scotland Rugby News, he said: “The problem is – and it’s not just our club or indeed our sport – is a lack of playing numbers. There’s fewer people playing and there was fewer people running the club.

“They were doing the best job they could but unfortunately at that point it didn’t seem feasible that there was going to be enough support to run the sevens.

“At that point they decided that it was going to be difficult to continue and once this was made public, the local community rallied round.

"I was at a meeting on Friday night along with a good few other people, there were over 30 people all with the interests of the club at heart to offer help and support.

“It was then felt we can put on a sevens and there were a lot of ideas thrown in but we had some obstacles to overcome because obviously the post had gone up and clubs had been informed and we then had to go back to them and say we were going to put the sevens on."


The sevens had originally been pencilled into the diary for May 18, but has been pushed back a week, which has caused further issues. 

Thoms said: "It's outwith the normal season so we had to approach the SRU, who were exceptionally helpful and we’ve got the dispensation to run the sevens on that day.

“We’ve had support from Gala YM and Lismore who we play regularly and that has been great. The rugby community since that post has really come forward and offered support to Walkerburn in various different ways whether it be through advertising or physical help which has been fantastic.

“We’re all excited now about the sevens. The issue is we’re going from a standing start but seven of the original clubs have agreed to come along, we’re just waiting on decisions from five others. The refereeing society in the borders has said they will arrange to get referees along to us on the day.”

The club are now looking for help in getting things sorted for May 25. 

Scotland Rugby News: Haddington RFC were winners of Walkerburn Sevens last yearHaddington RFC were winners of Walkerburn Sevens last year (Image: Haddington RFC)

They’re looking for people to help put tents up, man the gates, dressing rooms and help make food to sell and provide money for the club.

A good sevens event can provide funds to keep the club going for an entire year and that’s why Thoms believes it needs to be an entire community event to help make it as successful as possible for everyone.

He added: “I used to run the sevens and what we make at the sevens can help us run for a full year.

"It’s really important we try and make as much money from the day and put on a fantastic competition to keep everyone entertained.

“Historically when we’ve had the sponsors tent that the locals will do a lot of home baking and bring it along and that all adds to the community spirit that the club can harness and can be a focal point.

“Walkerburn Rugby Club is used by many groups through the year. There’s been a wedding at the rugby club, we’ve had a walking festival, annually it’s used for a local festival and the school have used it so it’s an important part of the community and it’s vitally important to keep it going.”

Getting the sevens going is just the start for Walkerburn, who also went through similar issues in 2001 and managed to bounce back.

They were unlikely to play next season at all but they are now hopeful they can get things sorted over the summer with all the help on board, with the SRU and Edinburgh Rugby as well as other clubs offering support.

He continued: “I think in the first instance we have to get the sevens going and then that allows us over the summer to look at the club for next season. We’ve been offered support and help from the SRU and from Edinburgh Rugby as well as some of the local clubs in the borders.

“What we have to do is sit down and plan a way ahead for Walkerburn Rugby. This year we played 10 games and won two and the positive discussion I’ve had with the coaches is they were pleased that even if it wasn’t a winning season the heads stayed up and the boys wanted to play and that’s important.

“We have eight to 10 training every session but we’ve had problems with injuries and one of the things coming into focus more is guys are struggling to get time off work.

"It’s not so bad for training but we’ve had issues not being able to get guys available for a Saturday because of work. That can be difficult.

“I’m a great believer we should try and get a game on if somebody wants to play. We now have the chance over the summer to sit down and look at the club and explore different avenues, different ways of using Caberston to keep the club going and keep it vibrant.”