The world-famous Melrose Sevens tournament – which had ambitious plans this year for an expanded format over four days – has been postponed in response to the developing Covid-19 crisis, but the club are hopeful they will be able to reschedule the event.

The tournament was due to run from April 9 to 12, while the Gala Sevens – on the following Saturday (18th April) – has also been postponed. The other Border clubs who host tournaments in the Kings of the 7s series in April and into May are monitoring the situation.

The sense of inevitability about these postponements in light of the escalation in the crisis in recent days, and especially after the Scottish Rugby Union announced on Friday that they were suspending all rugby until after March 29 at the earliest, will not lessen the sense of disappointment felt by the clubs involved.

There will also be a significant impact to the local economy. Melrose Sevens, in particular, attracts tens of thousands of supporters each year, and is estimated to have provided a £572,000 boost to the area in 2019. With the 2020 event being stretched over four days instead of the traditional single afternoon (and with several ancillary events also scheduled), organisers hoped it would be a bumper year.

“Postponing the Melrose Sevens will hurt the club financially as there are irretrievable and uninsurable costs,” a club spokesperson said. “However, we will get through this. This is a fast-moving situation and we cannot plan with absolute certainty at the moment, so we would ask everyone who has purchased a ticket to be patient while we make alternative arrangements.

“We can confirm all tickets purchased will be valid for a rearranged date and we will communicate those details as soon as we are in a position to do so.”

The Scottish Rugby Union announced on Sunday that a £500,000 fund has been set up to offer assistance to grassroots clubs facing cashflow and immediate financial challenges through the impact of the virus.

“Melrose Rugby Ltd will now engage with all the teams and sponsors involved, and work with all parties to agree a date later this year that works for everyone,” the spokesman added.

“We would like to thank the Scottish Borders Council and Scottish Rugby for their tremendous support in this unprecedented situation. To be clear, we’re not contemplating cancelling the event at this time; just postponing to another date.

“The evolving situation obliges us as a responsible organisation to take all reasonable measures to protect people’s health. That goes for the local community and for everyone that would be travelling to Melrose for the rugby and entertainment events.

“Over the past few weeks we have been in close contact with participating teams who are understandably nervous about booking travel and accommodation at the moment. The Melrose Sevens has always attracted a diverse audience of all ages from across the UK and abroad. Given the increased threat of COVID-19 to older people in particular, we are not willing to take any chances.”

Gala, meanwhile, were also revamping their traditional tournament, with their “Maroon’d at Gala” multi-sport community event hoping to attract over 1,200 participants, including rugby at every level from primary school age through under-14s, under-16s, under-18s to senior and ladies sections, plus football and running events.

“Once we became aware of the Scottish government’s guidance that there would be no provision of emergency services for events attended by over 500 people, we didn’t really have a choice,” said club president Ian Dalgleish.

“This is an unprecedented situation and Gala rugby club want to do everything required to help contain the spread of the virus as much as possible.

“We will be able to give an update later in the week on when we hope to run the event, but obviously a lot of it is out of our hands for the time being.”