Ukrainian refugees living on cruise ships offered free rugby tickets for big match at BT Murrayfield

More than 1,500 Ukrainian refugees currently living on cruise ships have been offered free entry to next week’s inter-city rugby derby between Edinburgh and Glasgow Warriors at BT Murrayfield.

The tickets have been offered to Ukrainians refugees based in both Edinburgh and Glasgow, with displaced families currently living on the cruise ships MS Victoria and MS Ambition, which are docked in Leith and on the Clyde. The ticket donation follows a similar invitation extended in May to a number of Afghan refugees for the same fixture.

It has come about as part of a working partnership between the City of Edinburgh Council and Edinburgh Voluntary Organisations Council. Edinburgh Rugby community manager and City of Edinburgh Council development officer Ruaridh Pye has led on the community outreach project which he has described as "incredibly important for Edinburgh Rugby as club."

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He explained: “The 1872 Cup is a world-famous fixture in the rugby calendar so it brings me great pride that we’ve been able to work with Edinburgh Voluntary Organisations Council to bring over 1500 Ukrainian refugees – most of whom will be attending their first rugby match – to BT Murrayfield for the deciding leg of the derby.

“This is incredibly important for Edinburgh Rugby as club – one of our main strategic pillars is to continually ‘engage’ with the local community, so to offer these displaced Ukrainian families the opportunity to get away for a night of fun at the rugby where they don’t have to worry about the anxieties and troubles of life back home really does mean the world to us.

“A massive thank you to those working tirelessly behind the scenes at EVOC – this is a project that we believe will have huge long-term benefits as those Ukrainian families look to settle in Edinburgh, a city we’ve been proud to represent since 1872.”

John Hawryluk is the Ukraine crisis response project coordinator for Edinburgh Voluntary Organisations Council, where he and his team have been working to ensure those displaced families get the opportunity to integrate into Scottish culture.

He said: “Since February, Edinburgh has welcomed over 10,000 Ukrainians who have been displaced via the war in Ukraine. People have come from all corners of Ukraine to seek safe refuge here in Scotland and are being accommodated across a range of hosted accommodation, in hotels and on two boats situated in Edinburgh and Glasgow.

Ukraine crisis response programme coordinator John Beaton-Hawryluk and Edinburgh Rugby community manager / Edinburgh council development officer Ruaridh Pye.

“Voluntary and public sector organisations across the city have come together to work closely with the Ukrainian community, supporting them to settle in Edinburgh and ensuring their immediate needs are taken care of whether it be ESOL lessons, mental health support or food provision.

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“Over the last few months, we have seen an incredible response from Edinburgh’s cultural, sporting and tourism sectors throwing open their doors to the community. Activities like tickets for the upcoming the 1872 Cup help us to support the community to reduce social isolation and longer-term integration in communities across Scotland. Over 1,500 Ukrainians are looking forward to next weekend’s derby decider.”

The 150th anniversary 1872 Cup takes place at BT Murrayfield on Friday, December 30, with a 7.35pm kick-off.