British & Irish Lions v Japan to be played at quarter-full Murrayfield after Scottish Government consultation

16,500 supporters will be permitted to attend next month’s game between the British & Irish Lions and Japan at BT Murrayfield. Picture: Craig Williamson / SNS16,500 supporters will be permitted to attend next month’s game between the British & Irish Lions and Japan at BT Murrayfield. Picture: Craig Williamson / SNS
16,500 supporters will be permitted to attend next month’s game between the British & Irish Lions and Japan at BT Murrayfield. Picture: Craig Williamson / SNS
The British & Irish Lions’ match against Japan at BT Murrayfield will be played in front of a quarter-full stadium.

It has been announced today that 16,500 supporters will be permitted to attend next month’s game.

The fixture is a curtain-raiser for the Lions’ tour of South Africa.

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The composite side have never played a Test match in Scotland before and will play Japan for the Vodafone Lions 1888 Cup on Saturday 26 June, kicking off at 3pm.

Murrayfield has a capacity of 67,000 but the crowd limit was set following consultation with the Scottish Government

The 16,500 figure came about following “the application of agreed social distancing criteria to ensure fans can attend safely”.

The reduced capacity means a number of ticketholders will not be permitted to attend and will be refunded.

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The Lions said in a statement: “Tickets will be allocated in line with government advice and the ticketing terms and conditions. All ticket holders will be contacted by Friday 28 May to advise if they have been successful in gaining access to the event.”

It will be the first time supporters will be able to attend an international match at Murrayfield since Scotland’s win over France in the Six Nations in March 2020.

The green light for having the stadium quarter-full follows on from Hampden being permitted to have 12,000 fans at each of the four Euro 2020 matches it is due to host next month.

However, no fans are being permitted to attend the Scottish Cup final between Hibs and St Johnstone at the national football stadium on Saturday due to a spike in Covid-19 cases in Glasgow. The Scottish FA had originally announced that 600 supporters would be permitted in a plan approved by the Scottish Government. However, a surge in the virus in the city forced a u-turn 24 hours later.

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The Lions thanked the government, public health agencies, emergency services and transport providers for their help in allowing them to stage the Japan match in front of fans.

“We’re absolutely delighted to be able to confirm today’s news,” said Ben Calveley, managing director of the British & Irish Lions.

“It will be brilliant to see a passionate crowd back at Murrayfield for what promises to be a superb game of rugby before we embark on the Tour to South Africa.

“I am sure it will give the entire touring party an enormous boost to play this fixture in front of Lions fans.

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“We are very grateful to the Scottish Government for its commitment and support to ensure this fixture would be seen by a live audience.”

The game against the 2019 Rugby World Cup quarter-finalists will be shown live on Channel 4 and broadcast on talkSPORT.

“This is an important first step to bring fans back to BT Murrayfield Stadium and a return to normality,” said Mark Dodson, the Scottish Rugby chief executive.

“Through the positive working relationship, we have developed with both Scottish Government and key local partners we are confident we will offer a safe environment for every supporter and look forward to playing our part in hosting this unique sporting occasion and welcoming rugby fans back to Edinburgh.

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“I’d like to thank everyone at Scottish Rugby who has contributed to enabling a live crowd to enjoy this match at BT Murrayfield and have no doubt it will be a special day for all involved.”

Professor Jason Leitch, the Scottish Government’s national clinical director, said: “As a flagship event of international significance, this match has been carefully considered by the Scottish Government.

“The stadium capacity has been agreed, following public health advice, in principle by Ministers but will be kept under review, with all partners continuing to monitor the status of the pandemic in the run up to the match to ensure fans can attend safely. This is the same process used to set the capacity for the Euros at Hampden and for other internationally significant events during the summer.

“While all those in the stadium should of course enjoy the game, they should do so safely – the virus is still out there. Free, fast and regular testing for people who do not have COVID-19 symptoms is available to everyone in Scotland – please take up that offer and do not attend if the result is positive or you have any symptoms whatsoever.

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“Stick to your allocated arrival and departure time, follow physical distancing rules and wear a mask at all times, other than when you’re eating or drinking. By following these rules, you will help us beat this virus and ensure many more people can enjoy the thrill of live events in future.”

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