THE importance of an historic Peeblesshire rugby event has been highlighted ahead of its centenary edition.

Walkerburn Sevens will take place for the 100th time later this month.

The village looked set to miss out on the milestone moment when the rugby club announced its closure and the subsequent cancellation of the event back in April.

But mass public support resulted in a U-turn, with a new Walkerburn Sevens date of May 25 set.

Keith McCudden, who is back in the role of sevens convenor after around five years, said: “Ever since the news broke that the club might be shutting and this wasn’t going ahead, there were a few of us that decided that it wasn’t the time.

“There’s some fight left, we’re not quite ready to give up. It’s exciting and hard work at the same time, but it’s coming together. We’ve definitely got a tournament and it’s definitely going ahead.”

Twelve teams – Walkerburn, Biggar, Haddington, Peebles, Lismore, Selkirk, Earlston, Heriot’s, Caledonian Thebans, Penicuik, Gala YM and Hawick Linden – have signed up for the tournament.

Mr McCudden said full focus was on hosting the sevens before the club’s attention turns to its long-term future.

But he confirmed that there were “no plans to close”.

“We’re 100 per cent committed to getting the 100th sevens played and then we’ll take it from there,” said Mr McCudden, who played for Walkerburn for around 20 years.

“We’re not closing, not this year coming up. We’ve got to keep the club going forward.”

Walkerburn, like many clubs across Scotland, has struggled for players in recent years.

But Mr McCudden said there was “definite hope for the future”.

The sevens convenor added: “The problem still remains of player numbers but we’re going to fight.

“This isn’t a new problem, Walkerburn’s been struggling for players for years. It just so happens that it’s been really bad this year.”

Mr McCudden said that the Scottish Rugby Union had offered its support, while the response of the whole rugby community had been “humbling”.

“We’ve had messages from all over Scotland, for a start, but from Italy, America, South Africa, just offering support,” he said. “It is humbling.

“At the end of the day, it’s a 140-year-old club, in some sort of way every club in Scotland’s been to Walkerburn at some point in our history.”

Looking ahead to the tournament, Mr McCudden said: “I’m a Walkerburn laddie, I didn’t just play for Walkerburn, I grew up there.

“I see it [the sevens] as more for the community. Walkerburn needs this, not just the rugby club.

“This is an annual event that has been going on for 100 years. These things need to keep going.

“It’s bigger than rugby in Walkerburn, it’s a big thing for the village.”

The event, sponsored by concrete contractor Border Mix, promises to be an action-packed affair.

Edinburgh Rugby players Darcy Graham and Mark Bennett are set to provide the match balls to kick off the tournament.

There will also be a wall which spectators can sign to commemorate the special occasion, while an arts and crafts tent for children will be on offer.

Calum MacLeod and his armed forces charity Who Dares Cares, which has supported the centenary celebrations, will be in attendance to raise cash.

Members of the charity also have the responsibility of delivering the match ball for the final after rowing down the River Tweed.

Walkerburn Sevens is supported by Glendinning Groundworks.