Six Nations: Female rugby fans rebel over ‘prejudicial’ £10 Murrayfield ‘handbag tax’

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Usually the fans’ cries of protest at Murrayfield are directed at the rising cost of venison burgers at the catering trucks or controversial decisions made against Scotland decided by “television match official” aka the video referee.

But now rugby supporters are up in arms about a non-advertised, £10 non-refundable “handbag tax” imposed on spectators, mostly women, attempting to take bags over a certain size into the stadium.

Rugby fans outside Murrayfield for the Scotland V Wales game last weekend. Pic: Members of Scottish Rugby Away Tours forum Facebook Page

Rugby fans outside Murrayfield for the Scotland V Wales game last weekend. Pic: Members of Scottish Rugby Away Tours forum Facebook Page

Scottish Rugby Union’s (SRU) security policy, which is printed on the reverse of tickets states that only very small bags are permitted and those over A5 size (210mm by 148mm) cannot be taken inside the stadium.

However there is no mention that if a bag fails to meet specifications its owner must pay £10 to hand it into a bag drop area and join lengthy queues of hundreds of supporters afterwards to retrieve it.

The only exceptions are for those with childcare or medical conditions.

However, the issue came to a head after the 2019 Six Nations Scotland-Wales game last weekend with supporters complaining that the security policy was illogical and inconsistently applied by stewards.

Gaynor McGruer from Monmouth in Wales said it was time to “quickly bring an end to this prejudicial and nonsensical policy”.

“If the SRU were to introduce a policy of charging women attending matches at Murrayfield an extra £10 to the price of admission there would be understandable outrage.

“It left a sour taste with me and many of those disgruntled women I spoke to were feeling that this was more about a grubby money-making exercise than any real concern for the safety of spectators.”

Steve Nicoll, a former Royal Marine from Brechin, Angus, who was attending his first home game with his wife Helen, said: “No-one disputes the need for security but the whole system is so porous. There is no ‘pat down’ service and people kept showing the stewards photos of handbags over the size limit which had been taken in. To negate any security threat there has to be a universal policy.

“My wife was asked to remove all her valuables from her bag as they couldn’t ensure their safety. What purpose is there to handing over an empty handbag? What does that do for security?”

A spokesman for Scottish Rugby said: “Scottish Rugby has operated a small bag only policy at BT Murrayfield since November 2017 in collaboration with police and security agencies.

“The policy, which is of course kept under close review, is extensively communicated to all fans throughout their customer journey in advance via information leaflets issued with tickets, details printed on tickets through to email updates and social media reminders.

“The objective is to enable spectators to enter the stadium safely and quickly and those with valid exemptions have their own entry lanes allocated.

“The overwhelming majority of fans adhere to the policy and we are seeing less than one per cent of the total 67,144 fans needing to use the bag drop facility provided to enable entry. Reducing the number and size of bags at BT Murrayfield makes our matchdays safer and has the full support of law enforcement 
specialists.”