Edinburgh Accies try for Scottish rugby museum

A painting of the first rugby international match held at the Academicals' ground in 1871

A painting of the first rugby international match held at the Academicals' ground in 1871

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A SCOTTISH rugby museum could be created at the home of the sport as part of a controversial development project.

Rugby fans have campaigned for a museum to be built at Murrayfield, the current base of the Scottish Rugby Union and the national team.

But it has now emerged that Edinburgh Academicals’ £8 million stadium rebuild at Raeburn Place in Stockbridge will house Scottish rugby memorabilia as well as its own famous story.

The Academicals, formed more than 150 years ago, is the oldest club in rugby’s history, and the first in the world to host an international match – when Scotland beat England in 1871.

Work on the project is set to start in the autumn, and the club has been in discussions with the Scottish Rugby Union about the plans.

Meanwhile, the Murrayfield museum is said to be a “work in progress”.

The push for a complex at stadium, built in 1925, was led by fans and others connected with Murrayfield and its library, and three years ago a proposal for a £250,000 facility was put forward and agreed.

But critics say little visible progress has been made on that project.

However, the Academicals’ redevelopment, which includes a row of shops at the site next to Inverleith Park, has its own difficulties, having attracted opposition from Stockbridge residents.

Academicals’ president Frank Spratt said the museum’s contents were still being discussed, but there were plans for interactive features as well as older artefacts.

He said: “One of the things we certainly want to do is highlight the ground’s importance as where the first international was held – and some say the first international in any major sport. We’ve been speaking with other parties.”

An SRU spokesman said: “Scottish Rugby endorses the proposed redevelopment of the club’s Raeburn Place ground and welcomes the club’s desire to incorporate appropriate facilities to showcase the club, the venue and its place in international rugby’s history. We look forward to continuing to work with the club as the project develops and commends the planned museum development to others within the wider rugby and sporting communities.

“We believe that this development will be of note to all those interested in the history and heritage of rugby football and the development of international sporting contests in general.”

There is no estimated completion date yet for the Murrayfield museum, but special exhibitions at existing display sections are planned.

The spokesman added: “Among the specific elements we’re working on at present are material relating to the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of the Great War, in which Scotland lost more internationalists than any other rugby playing nation.”