SHOULD, heaven forbid, any of our World Sevens visitors from afar fall

foul of the local law -- nothing trivial, armed robbery, serious assault

or murder all considered -- they could do worse than blow the whistle

for Scotland's refereeing representative in the tournament.

For Ray Megson, an Edinburgh solicitor who specialises in criminal

cases, has a growing reputation for getting people off rather than

sending them off. He pursues both professional and pleasure activities

with much the same intensity.

Ray has just passed the examinations which now allow solicitors to

take cases all the way through the highest courts, and that is decidedly

his intent. Ditto his rugby career.

At 47 Megson prides himself on his fitness, which is probably the

quality which gained him entry to this tournament.

His fellow international referee, Jim Fleming of Boroughmuir, relates:

''Ray trains every day and is a very determined fellow. If he sets his

sights on something he really goes for it. Obviously I would like

Scotland to reach the final of the sevens. If they don't, Ray must be a

candidate to referee the last tie -- that would be a great honour for

him and for our country.''

In fact Ray Megson is qualified to represent at least three different

nations. He was born in Sheffield, spent 12 childhood years in

Australia, and has been a proud Scot ever since.

His father is a former Australian airman and young Ray was soon

playing for his New South Wales school at the age of five. ''With a

full-size ball,'' he is quick to point out, ''and 15 players on each

side. There was no mini or midi-rugby in those days.''

Just after his 12th birthday the marriage of his parents was over and

Ray was sent to Scotland, to Newton Stewart, to complete his secondary

education. ''To say it was a culture shock is something of an

understatement. I recall arriving during the Christmas period with

almost no suitable clothing. At the time I felt pretty hard done by.''

Megson is nothing, however, if not resilient. He was soon turning out,

at centre or fly-half, for Wigtownshire before moving to read law at

Edinburgh University.

''My first East club was Musselburgh before moving to Edinburgh

Wanderers in 1969. There was a young bloke called Alan Lawson joined the

club the same day as me.''

Wanderers were then fielding a number of men who would be able to

retire with caps in their collection -- John Douglas, Erle Mitchell,

Bobby Clark, and Jock Millican among them. Megson did not reach such

heights though he was a regular first-team player and represented

Edinburgh on a couple of occasions.

He was a more than useful sevens exponent and was part of the

Wanderers' side which won the prestigious Amsterdam international

tournament in 1976. Ironically, while attempting to defend the trophy

the following year, Ray received the shoulder injury which ended his

playing career.

''I knew the shoulder was dodgy and had had a pin put in already but I

was still shattered when I was told I had to stop. After such a long

time being involved in the game, I was just not ready to leave the

park.'' Out came the whistle.

In 1978 Megson was back in Amsterdam as one of the tournament

referees. At 15-a-side level he shot fairly quickly up the divisions and

was appointed to the International Panel in 1985.

A fairly tousy duel between England and Wales marked his debut in the

Five Nations championship and he has now had charge of seven major and

five other internationals. Two years ago, on a refereeing trip to

Australia, he had a reunion with the father he had not seen since the

day Ray departed for Scotland.

''He was in great form and it cheered me up that he smoked and drank

more than I did.

''One of the ABC commentators also remembered me. He told the viewers:

''I played against Megson in Edinburgh -- and we stuffed them!'' Sevens

has always been a particular love of Ray's -- ''the speed of the ties

and the big crowds that you get at many tournaments here and abroad

create a lot of excitement'' -- and a special thrill was handling the

final of the Hong Kong tournament a couple of years ago when Fiji

defeated New Zealand.

''The atmosphere at Murrayfield will be terrific. It is bound to be a

hard-fought competition.''

Whether in kit or in court, Ray Megson with his mop of hair and

clipped moustache cuts a rather swashbuckling figure. Players will tell

you he is not a great chatter on the field but, when he does speak, you

would be well advised to listen.