Ruagby Union: World Cup worry for Scotland over Armstrong: Bill Leith at the Melrose Sevens

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The Independent Online
CONCERN is mounting that Gary Armstrong may be about to forfeit his place in the Lions party, who will be beginning their tour of New Zealand next month. The scrum-half was absent, marked injured, when his club, Jed-Forest, went down 0-61 to the Co- Optimists - effectively the Scotland side who will compete in next weekend's World Cup Sevens - in the final of the venerable Melrose tournament on Saturday.

Armstrong took no part throughout the afternoon and the precise nature of his injury, coupled with the fact that he recently remarked he may not play international rugby for much longer and fancies playing in a different position for his club, is provoking widespread speculation.

Jed-Forest's coach, Alan Goodfellow, has even had to deny vigorously that the home-loving and laid-back Armstrong has now lost his appetite for undertaking a second Lions tour.

So far Armstrong has acknowledged an ankle injury, which he says has troubled him for some time, and indicated his intention to visit the tour doctor, James Robson, in Dundee as soon as possible. But this

tenacious competitor has soldiered on throughout the season suffering from a groin strain considered serious enough for Jed-Forest usually to carry experienced scrum-half cover among their replacements.

Meanwhile, Dougie Morgan, Scotland's sevens coach, saw in the Melrose victory a degree of vindication for the three-week Pacific tour recently undertaken in preparation for the world tournament. 'Without that trip we would not have been equipped to overcome the physical challenge of Bay of Plenty in the semi-final,' Morgan said.

It is unusual to hear props singled out as sevens heroes, but David Millard, the captain, said: 'Bay of Plenty had to be matched up front and Doddie Weir and Derek Turnbull took no nonsense.

A touchline conversion by Gregor Townsend was the decisive factor in a tie the Scots won 14-12 and may have saved a fortune for organisers who are not now obliged to invite Bay of Plenty back to defend the title.

However, these same organisers were left counting the cost after a Western Province development squad had travelled all the way from South Africa only to be beaten in their first tie by Boroughmuir.

MELROSE SEVENS: First Round Glasgow High- Kelvinside 40 Currie 5; Dundee High 24 Langholm 7; Watsonians 24 Stewart's Melville FP 12; Selkirk 19 Melrose 14. Second Round Edinburgh Academicals 35 Glasgow High/Kelvinside 12; Co-Optimists 31 Stirling County 7; Gala 28 Dundee High 26; Bay of Plenty, NZ 33 Hawick 0; Watsonians 17 Heriot's FP 12 (aet); Kelso 22 Glasgow Academicals 0; Jed-Forest 22 Selkirk 14; Boroughmuir 21 Western Province, SA 10. Quarter-finals Co-Optimists 26 Edinburgh Academicals 5; Bay of Plenty 31 Gala 7; Kelso 33 Watsonians 7; Jed-Forest 21 Boroughmuir 12. Semi-finals Co-Optimists 14 Bay of Plenty 12; Jed-Forest 31 Kelso 21. Final Co-Optimists 61 Jed-Forest 0.