FOR the first time since Murrayfield was redeveloped in 1994, the stadium will be full to capacity for an autumn Test match with New Zealand.
It is bizarre that the world-leading nation have not attracted a full house in Edinburgh before now and strange that it is filled at a time when the chances of Scotland pulling off a famous first win in 107 years of clashes with New Zealand appear particularly slim.
However, it is likely to be an indication of the draw of the World Cup winners, and the style of rugby they have been playing this year, and the fact that the Scotland squad stirred a feelgood factor in the Scottish game with a historic three-Test tour success in Australia, Fiji and Samoa in the summer with their own exciting brand of rugby.
Murrayfield’s capacity was reduced by a few hundred to 67,144 by the installation of giant screens behind each goal, but never before has every seat been sold in the autumn. It represents a major success for the initiatives brought in by SRU chief executive Mark Dodson and the enlarged marketing team, which has tried to create a more “customer-friendly” approach, with online ticketing allowing supporters to choose their seats, a re-opening of the Murrayfield car park and reasonably priced ticket offers linking the autumn Tests and allowing as many as two adults and eight under-18s to attend this Sunday’s match for just £40 in total.
Scotland head coach Andy Robinson welcomed the news of a full Murrayfield. He said: “Thanks to the fans for their tremendous backing. For me, there’s nothing to compare to a full house on international match day and the chance for Scotland to challenge the best team in the world increases the sense of occasion.”
Tickets are also selling well for the second game in the EMC Tests, against South Africa next weekend, according to Dominic McKay, Scottish Rugby’s director of commercial operations.
Meanwhile, a global TV audience of about 100 million could watch Scotland’s opening EMC Test against New Zealand this Sunday, with the BBC’s coverage being beamed across Europe, North and South America, Asia and Australasia. Never has there been greater interest, it would seem, in Scotland’s bid to end the long wait for victory over New Zealand.