Campaign to find Britain’s Best Rugby Pub returns

Following the success of last year’s inaugural search, the organisers of the oldest rugby sevens tournament in the world are once again calling on fans to nominate their favourite venues to challenge for the title of Britain’s Best Rugby Pub.

Published 5th Feb 2019
Updated 20 th Sep 2023

With top rugby matches including the televised Melrose Sevens games and the Six Nations, set to be enjoyed in bars and pubs up and down the country over the next few months, rugby fans are being asked by the new social media campaign to say why their local bar, club or pub deserves to be named the best in the country.

The Aberdeen Standard Investments Melrose Sevens team are asking for those pubs who go that extra mile with a great craft beer selection, large screens to view the big matches, delicious food when the final whistle blows, or a welcoming atmosphere.

Last year, the Athletic Arms (The Diggers) in Edinburgh and the Buccleuch Arms Hotel in St Boswells, in the Scottish Borders, narrowly lost out to a rival from south of the Border.

James Reeve, manager of the eventual winners and current title holders, The Merchant’s Inn at – where else? – Rugby, said the win gave the venue an unexpected boost: “First up, it was a massive shock, but also an honour, to win this competition as we were up against some of the best in the business. We’ve used the award win in our advertising and promotion and we’ve had a lot more visitors as a result.

“The plaque takes pride of place outside our premises and it’s the first thing that visitors see when they walk in – they know they are entering Britain’s Best Rugby Pub of 2018. We would love to retain the title, but we know the competition will be tough.”

Scotland has an abundance of pubs where people come together to enjoy shared interests including rugby, and often the atmosphere in clubs and bars during big-match screenings can be as electrifying as you’d find in a stadium.

Clubs from across Scotland will travel to the Borders to compete at the 129th Aberdeen Standard Investments Melrose Sevens on Saturday, 13 April, alongside international teams from England, South Africa and USA.

Rugby fans who can’t travel to the Borders to cheer on the home and international teams at the event will be able to savour match day action through television coverage.

Douglas Hardie, president of Melrose Rugby Club, explained that the pub competition is a great opportunity for fans to get into some pre-tournament rivalry by putting forward local hostelries as contenders.

He said: “It’s all to play for – we can’t wait to hear the pub-going public’s suggestions for the 2019 Rugby Pub of the Year. Going by last year’s experience, we expect this competition to generate plenty of competitive rivalry, just as there will be on the pitch at Melrose on 13 April. More than 12,000 people will descend on Melrose to attend the tournament, and many more will be watching TV coverage in bars or pubs.

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"Imagine the added satisfaction of enjoying the tournament in a venue that has just been named Aberdeen Standard Investments’ Melrose Sevens Rugby Pub of the Year.”

Fans are encouraged to share their comments – and pictures – on Melrose Sevens social media, or on Twitter @melrose7s using the hashtag #bestrugbypub.

Voting closes on 1 March and after reviewing the entries, a shortlist will be drawn up which will then go to a public vote, with the winner announced before this year’s Melrose Sevens.

The pub that gains the most votes gets the title and an inscribed plaque to recognise the achievement.

Coverage of the event will be available through the BBC Scotland channel on Freesat, Sky and Virgin Media.

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Driven by a passion for all things drinks-related, Sean writes for The Scotsman extensively on the subject. He can also sometimes be found behind the bar at the world famous Potstill bar in Glasgow where he continues to enhance his whisky knowledge built up over 10 years advising customers from all over the world on the wonders of our national drink. Recently, his first book was published. Dubbed Gin Galore, it explores Scotland's best gins and the stories behind those that make them.
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