Rugby: Moving matches to Spartans can only boost Edinburgh

Edinburgh Rugby playing in a sparsely-filled Murrayfield which Phil Anderton  wants to avoid. Picture: Ian Rutherford
Edinburgh Rugby playing in a sparsely-filled Murrayfield which Phil Anderton wants to avoid. Picture: Ian Rutherford
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Former Scotland Rugby 
supremo Phil Anderton today insisted any move to a more compact stadium for 
Edinburgh’s team would have a beneficial effect on fortunes.

The Evening News has learned that the SRU have had preliminary discussions about moving the Edinburgh team they operate alongside Spartans Football club at Ainslie Park.

In further revelations, it is understood that the Spartans ground could be adapted to accommodate up to 6000 spectators, while the artificial pitch comes up to standards laid down by the International
Rugby Board. While both 
parties have yet to comment, the concept of a joint venture has been hailed within the rugby community and beyond while there is recognition that SRU input could provide resources for Spartans to develop their facility at a time when a new pyramid system offering promotion to the Scottish Football League beckons.

Taking a close interest in any project is ex-Edinburgh and SRU chief executive Anderton, who has worked at the top levels of rugby, football and tennis.

Anderton said: “I think Edinburgh playing in a smaller ground than Murrayfield would definitely make a big difference.

“Murrayfield is just too big and while Myreside was compact, it wasn’t available for the whole season, with Meadowbank’s main stand just too far from the pitch.

“I’d applaud anything that gives the Edinburgh fans a feeling of having more of a base and there is no doubt that intimidating atmospheres influence results. Home and away records of teams prove that.”

Ex-Edinburgh coach Ian Rankin is another proponent and he insisted: “There won’t be a fan who doesn’t want to see their team leave Murrayfield for a more compact ground.”

Rankin, who is standing to be SRU vice president at this summer’s annual meeting, added: “It is a no brainer. When my Dundee High club met Hawick in a play-off for a Premiership place at Meggetland last month, the atmosphere was tremendous and really lifted the players on both sides.

“Joint ventures involving more than one sport have to be the way forward and, given our climate, the same goes for artificial pitches. Through a friend I was a guest recently at an Alloa Athletic football match which was played on their artificial pitch. I saw first hand how this benefits the club and the community; the days of chasing a ball around in mud must be numbered where possible.

“I also know from being involved in coaching the Scottish Club international side how highly regarded Spartans ground is as a sports facility.”

Among those who have trained at Ainslie Park are the All Blacks and Racing Metro.