Ticket sales for Sunday’s opening 1872 Cup match between Edinburgh and Glasgow at BT Murrayfield are poised to break the 20,000 barrier after passing the previous record attendance.
Sales are expected to be at around the 17,000 mark this morning, which is already more than the biggest-ever crowd for the inter-city fixture, which was 15,810 at the national stadium last season for the second leg on January 2.
Sunday’s match, which kicks off at 3.05pm, will be played in front of a bigger crowd than the sell-out 17,000 attending the Hearts v Celtic football match at nearby Tynecastle, which starts at 2.00pm.
Holders Edinburgh, who won the double header 26-24 on aggregate last season to bring the trophy back to the Capital for the first time in six years, host the Guinness PRO12 champions first this year before the sold-out return at Scotstoun next Saturday.
Edinburgh v Glasgow is the oldest club fixture in world rugby and the 1872 Cup was restored to be played for as a double header within the PRO12 competition during the 2007-08 season, when the games attracted crowds of 6225 at Murrayfield and 4731 at Firhill.
Meanwhile, Dougie Fife has revealed Edinburgh will look to double up in defence in a bid to stop wrecking ball Taqele Naiyaravoro ripping the Cup back into Glasgow’s hands.
The giant Warriors wing, who arrived in the summer, has been hitting his stride of late, culminating in a stunning hat-trick against Scarlets in the European Champions Cup a couple of weeks ago.
Glasgow are packed with Scotland stars and a boast a host of Test players but it is the Fiji-born powerhouse with one Australia cap who is emerging as the big dangerman this weekend.
Scotland wing/full-back Fife said: “We have looked at the Scarlets game and the tries he got. A lot of them came from poor kicks from the Scarlets straight into his hands. You can’t be doing that, especially giving someone his size a run up before he faces a tackle.
“We have to play smart with him, kick behind him and not give him easy opportunities. He doesn’t like passing too much and will have a real good go and then look for the offload. The boys have to hit him. The first man has to go low and the next man get him too. We’ll have to use a two-man job on him.”
After a stop-start season, Fife is determined to get the nod when both clubs name their teams for the showdown at noon today, and would relish a match-up with Naiyaravoro.
“I haven’t played against him obviously but I’ve played against [Alesana] Tuilagi in a warm-up game against Newcastle Falcons so that’s a fairly similar size and I kind of know what to expect.”
Fife was part of the Edinburgh team who won the Cup last season and it remains one of the career highlights for the local boy from the city’s south-west. He admitted there was an extra buzz around the club this week.
“Yes, it’s very different to a normal week,” he said. “It’s a special time of the year, the crowds are bigger and there’s a lot of hype. We’ve been thinking about it for a couple of weeks to be honest.
“It’s hard not to think about it but we had a poor result at London Irish so had to put all our efforts into getting the win last week. We managed to do that and now it’s completely about Glasgow.”
It has, in many ways, been a frustrating season so far for the six-times capped outside back. He has only made three starts in the PRO12, plus a few in Europe, and concedes it has been frustrating.
“Because I was away with national team [in the extended World Cup squad] I missed the pre-season and [Edinburgh coach] Alan [Solomons] felt the guys deserved a shot and they have taken it. It is very frustrating knowing I could not do much about that.
“I have been waiting for a chance and when it came it has been at full-back where I have not played much, but hopefully to get a run would be great. Going forward I see myself as a winger. Damien [Hoyland] coming through puts pressure on me. He has done well and you always need a bit of competition. There is also Tom [Brown] and Otolea [Katoa] has done well, Will Helu can play on the wing, so there is loads of competition.”
Fife has yet to score a try this season and this Sunday’s match would be the perfect stage to break that duck.
“Before I was playing every game but this year I have been at 15 a lot, we have been rotating and I’ve not had the chances you would as a winger,” he explained. “The longer run of games you get you build up more confidence. It [lack of tries] is not at the back of my mind at all. It is just about getting on the pitch and doing what I can for the squad.”
Fife, who scored for Scotland in the Stade de France during the Six Nations earlier in the year, said that win over Glasgow gave everyone at Edinburgh a spring in their step at the start of the year.
“After it we went over to Connacht which is a tough place and got a good win, then won a few games after so obviously got a bit of a bounce after winning the Glasgow game. It was awesome for us as a squad to win the cup. We’ll need to bring what we did last year when we were so physical and attacked the breakdown and dominated that area. That was a big boost to us to beat them up front and, if we get a good shot to take them outside, then we have to take every opportunity.”
• TICKETS for Sunday’s game (£20/£25 adult, £10/£15 seniors/students, £5/£10) can be purchased at the Scottish Rugby online ticket centre or by phone on 0844 800 3490.