THE BEST rugby pub in the country is in Warwickshire in the birthplace of the game – and it’s all thanks to The Observer.
The Merchant’s Inn has been voted the top pub for lovers of the oval ball game in Britain.
The quest by Aberdeen Standard Investments Melrose Sevens saw hundreds of rugby fans across the country get behind their favourite bars and clubs, but the Little Church Street pub secured the largest share of the votes – with one supporter declaring it worthy of the top honour for “great rugby atmosphere based in the true home of the greatest sport.”
From a final shortlist of five, The Merchant’s secured just under half of the vote, beating the famous Cabbage Patch in Twickenham into second place.
The pub was initially nominated for the award by Rugby Observer editor Andy Morris for being “a rugby pub in Rugby, just metres from the pitch at Rugby School where William Webb Ellis picked up the ball and ran”.
Manager James Reeve said: “It was amazing to come first – it means a great deal to us, particularly being up against some of the best rugby bars around.
“We were up against some seriously tough competition – particularly the Cabbage Patch in Twickenham and the Athletic Arms in Edinburgh which are both very famous, one being half a mile from Twickenham, and the other being across the road from Murrayfield.
“We see ourselves as the pub of rugby as we are less than 200 yards from where the game was invented and it’s great to know that our customers think so highly of what we offer here.”
Douglas Hardie, president of Melrose Rugby Club said: “There was an incredible response, with droves of rugby fans taking part. We are delighted to award the title to The Merchant’s Inn.
“It seems no coincidence that those who live in the town where the sport began are also some of rugby’s biggest fans. Not only did The Merchant’s Inn gain the most votes, but it attracted favourable comments as to why it should win the award.”
As well as the title, the Merchant’s Inn will receive an inscribed plaque to recognise the achievement.
The award was given to mark the annual Melrose Sevens tournament, which takes place in the Scottish town on April 14. Visit www.melrose7s.com for more information.