A STUNNED dad has hit out after his air cadet son was forced to pay to watch Scotland take on South Africa at Murrayfield – even though he played a starring role in the occasion.
Around 40 cadets waved flags during an opening ceremony before Sunday’s autumn international, including Richard Cox’s 13-year-old son.
But he then had to borrow £10 from a friend to buy a ticket after learning the job did not come with a seat to watch the main event, which Scotland lost 28-0.
Mr Cox, 47, said: “It’s unbelievable. My son has been a member of the Musselburgh Air Training Corps for about a year. He’s very dedicated – he recently took part in an event on Remembrance Sunday and was out selling poppies two Saturdays in a row.
“On Sunday he got up at 6am so he could be at Murrayfield in time to rehearse for the big event and they didn’t even let them watch the match.”
Edinburgh University worker Mr Cox, from Tranent, said he had been left unimpressed in the build-up after his son was asked to take a packed lunch.
He said: “They can’t provide a sausage roll and a bottle of juice for the kids who are putting in all this effort? I could just about accept that, but when I heard he had to pay for his own ticket it really made me angry.
“He only had enough money on him to have a McDonald’s afterwards as a treat. Luckily his friend was able to give him a tenner, but he said there were a couple of other kids who just had to go home.
“These matches make a huge amount of profit – it’s really unbelievable that the cadets have to pay.”
But the Scottish Rugby Union (SRU) and the Air Cadet Corps (ATC) both insisted that none of the youngsters were told they would be allowed to watch the match for free.
An SRU spokeswoman said: “Scottish Rugby has enjoyed a first-rate relationship over a number of years with the ATC who often assist on international match days in a flag-bearing role.
“In every instance we make a significant donation to the ATC which they can then use to purchase match tickets for their cadets. The ATC are wholly responsible for communicating and distributing this information.”
It is understood the ATC has often bought tickets in advance, with cash spent later replaced by the donation.
A spokesman for the ATC added: “There has never been an arrangement to provide tickets for matches, though the SRU do reward the support we give them by making a donation, though this is usually done after the event.
“The children would have been briefed on this situation and no-one would have been told they had a ticket for the game.”
However, Mr Cox insisted his son had no reason to believe he had to buy a ticket.
He said: “Some children, my son included, most definitely were not briefed. And, to my mind, the bottom line is that these cadets were being charged to watch a match that they have taken part in the opening ceremony for in the first place. Any way you look at that, it’s extremely unfair.”
THE Air Training Corps is a voluntary youth group which is part of the Air Cadet Organisation of the Royal Air Force.
The 297 Musselburgh ATC was formed in February 1941.
The aims of the present-day Air Cadet Organisation is to promote and encourage a practical interest in aviation and the RAF, provide training which will be useful both in the service and in civilian life and foster the spirit of adventure.