Scotland to play rugby Test at Rugby Park

Scotland stars, from left, Mark Bennett, Alasdair Dickinson and Matt Scott joined kids at Rugby Park
Scotland stars, from left, Mark Bennett, Alasdair Dickinson and Matt Scott joined kids at Rugby Park
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Scotland will break new ground in this year’s Autumn rugby Test series by playing Tonga at the home of Kilmarnock Football Club.

The Rugby Park encounter, on Saturday, November 22 (kick off 2.30pm), will also be the first time an international involving a tier one country has been staged on an artificial pitch.

In recent years, Scotland have played at both Aberdeen FC’s Pittodrie Stadium and McDiarmid Park, home of St Johnstone, but two preceding Autumn fixtures, against New Zealand and Argentina, will be at BT Murrayfield.

Scottish Rugby Chief Executive Mark Dodson said in a statement: “We are delighted to bring international rugby to Ayrshire for the first time. It’s an area where clubs, schools and local authorities are all working together to provide opportunities for our young people to play rugby.

“We know from the matches we’ve taken to Aberdeen in the recent past that international rugby can excite and enthral a whole new audience and, as a means of boosting playing numbers, it certainly helps the teachers, coaches and volunteers in all they do to encourage participation.

“Rugby Park will become the ninth venue at which Scotland have played international rugby on our own patch. Clearly it’s home to Kilmarnock FC but it was the original home of Kilmarnock Rugby Club,”

On the previous occasion Tonga visited Scotland, a home defeat was followed by the resignation of coach Andy Robinson. His successor, Vern Cotter, said: “We last faced Tonga at Pittodrie in 2012 and that result still hurts.”

Up to two children under-12 will be admitted free to the game provided they are accompanied by a ticket buying adult.