Ned Haig honoured by Historic Environment Scotland

Ned Haig honoured by Historic Environment Scotland

Melrose Rugby today confirmed that Ned Haig, the founder of Rugby Sevens, has been recognised by Historic Environment Scotland (HES) in their latest Commemorative Plaque scheme.

The news comes in the same week that Melrose Rugby announced a new semi-professional tournament for their Melrose Sevens event, The Ned Haig Cup.

The HES scheme has been running since 2012, it celebrates noteworthy individuals from Scottish public life, as nominated by the public, by erecting plaques on buildings with strong links to their life or work.

In total 17 influential people who lived and worked in Scotland have been recognised in this round of commemorative plaques.

The commemorative plaque will be unveiled at The Greenyards (the home of Melrose Rugby Club) ahead of the 2020 Melrose Sevens which takes place between 9 and 12 April.

The abbreviated format of Rugby Sevens was the brainchild of Ned Haig.

In 1883 Haig suggested hosting a tournament as part of a sports day to raise funds for Melrose Rugby Club. As it would not be possible to play several rugby games in one afternoon with a full squad of 15, teams for the tournament were reduced to seven men, and the match time from 80 minutes to 15 minutes.

The inaugural Melrose Sports took place on 28 April 1883, and included foot races, drop-kicks, dribbling races and place kicking as well as the main rugby tournament, which attracted eight teams. Haig played on the Melrose team, which defeated local rivals Gala in the final.

After Haig retired from competition, he continued to take an active part in the running of the club, serving for several seasons on the General and Match committee. He died in Melrose on 28 March 1939.

Barbara Cummins, Director of Heritage at HES, said: “Through our plaque scheme, we want to highlight the important link between people and places, connecting these exceptional individuals to the built environment that shaped their life and work.”

Douglas Brown, President of Melrose Rugby, said: “We’re so happy that Ned Haig has received this wonderful honour from Historic Environment Scotland.

“By all accounts, he was a remarkable man and a true sporting visionary. From those humble beginnings in 1883, Haig’s original vision has grown remarkably in popularity over the years and created one of the most exciting of team sports. Rugby Sevens is now both a Commonwealth Games and Olympic Sport.

“Ned Haig is the father of Rugby Sevens. We’re proud of our heritage and our place in rugby history and that’s all down to Ned Haig. We’ll continue to promote the abbreviated game in tribute to him and those early rugby pioneers.

“We are celebrating Ned’s life and importance to rugby this year by naming a new semi-professional tournament after him at the 2020 Melrose Sevens. Semi-professional teams from around the world will come to the Greenyards, the home of Sevens, to battle it out for the inaugural Ned Haig Cup on Saturday 11 and Sunday 12 April.”

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