TENS of thousands of Welsh rugby fans are set to descend on the capital from today as the city gears up for the first home rugby international of the 2015 Six Nations tournament.
Pubs are set for one of the busiest days of the year, with industry bosses claiming this weekend’s rugby set-piece could be “more important than it’s ever been” for city licensed traders and the city economy set to make up to £16 million, according to RBS analysis.
Transport chiefs and police chiefs are also bracing for a busy weekend, with extra services and warnings issued about a spate of road closures.
Sunday’s match at Murrayfield Stadium is the first home Six Nations fixture for Scotland since the launch of the tram service last year, but bosses are confident of providing a smooth service after dry runs during last year’s autumn internationals, Celtic matches and a One Direction concert at the venue. Trams will run an increased schedule, with services every six minutes.
Tram managing director Tom Norris said: “We’re really excited about the prospect of running our first services for the Six Nations. Additional trams will be put on for rugby fans and there will be extra staff to help customers find their way and keep everything moving as smoothly as possible.”
However, a closure at Russell Road that led to a spat between the city and Network Rail has gone ahead, causing a potential headache for fans trying to make a quick getaway from Murrayfield after the match.
Scottish Licensed Trade Association chief executive Paul Waterson said takings for pubs, clubs and bars would be vital for year-end totals.
Mr Waterson said: “This weekend is massively important, and one of the reasons is the new drink driving regulations and the fall-off in business. It means these types of days, which are very sociable and very busy, take on even more importance.
“The Welsh supporters prepare for this, they save up one year to the next, so it’s a very busy time.”
Cowgate superpub the Three Sisters, usually ground zero for the most raucous celebrations, is making the most of the opportunity by staging a world-record bid to pull more pints of cider than have ever been served before in a single day.
Three Sisters manager Tom Griffiths said: “Every year when we host the Welsh, we struggle to have enough beer and cider on site. We think this year we are prepared for whatever they can throw at us.”
With roads including Roseburn Street, Corstorphine Road and the Western Approach Road set to close during Sunday, city transport convener Lesley Hinds warned fans that they should plan their journeys to the stadium ahead of time.
Councillor Hinds said: “I’d encourage everyone to plan their journey carefully and take heed of travel and parking information so they can have as enjoyable a time as possible. Good luck to Scotland!”