Murrayfield pitch set to force Edinburgh into ground switch

The playing surface at Murrayfield has had the grass roots eaten by a parasite. Pic: Ian Rutherford
The playing surface at Murrayfield has had the grass roots eaten by a parasite. Pic: Ian Rutherford
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EDINBURGH could be forced to play their next home match in the RaboDirect PRO12 at Meggetland or Myreside as a result of the ongoing parasite problem with the pitch at Murrayfield.

The Capital club have been asked to look at alternative venues for the visit of Ospreys on Friday, February 28 as the SRU looks to protect the playing surface at the national stadium for Scotland’s RBS Six Nations games.

The international matches against England on February 8 and France a month later are not under any threat, with the worm-ridden turf described as a “manageable” problem, but Scottish rugby’s governing body is ready to move all non-international matches away from Murrayfield as a precautionary measure.

In the event that the game is moved, Edinburgh’s preference would be to keep it in the city, with the two biggest floodlit club grounds emerging the obvious favourites.

Meggetland is home to Boroughmuir, while nearby Myreside is Watsonians’ home ground. Meadowbank, where Edinburgh played prior to moving to Murrayfield, would be an outside contender.

Wherever the match ends up being played, the crucial factor is that it is able to satisfy all the criteria for hosting a one-off match in the RaboDirect PRO12.

An Edinburgh spokesman said: “Should we need to move the game, the priorities would be to keep it in the city and have it at a club ground. The key factors would be size and the ability to cater for broadcasters, as well as floodlights and health and safety elements.

“We have an average crowd of 4000 for home games in the Pro12, or 4500 if you include the Glasgow game, and we would like to seat as many of those people as possible, and give them as close an experience as possible to what they get at Murrayfield. Temporary seating is a possibility and it’s all about minimising disruption for our supporters.”

Boroughmuir president Bill Noble and his Watsonians counterpart, Paul di Rollo, would both be open to the idea of hosting such a prestigious match.

Scottish Rugby, whose groundstaff are working “tirelessly” to halt the deterioration of the playing surface, issued a statement which read: “Scottish Rugby remains committed to Murrayfield being the most widely-accessible international rugby ground in the northern hemisphere. In the short term, however, we are doing everything we can to support the efforts of our groundstaff to ensure the pitch is in sufficiently robust health to host our two home fixtures in the 2014 RBS Six Nations Championship – the Calcutta Cup game against England on Saturday February 8 and our meeting with France on Saturday March 8.

“We seek the understanding of players and supporters, who may find that their opportunity to play/spectate at the international pitch is restricted while we do our utmost to rehabilitate the playing surface.”