Easter Road on rugby agenda

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EDINBURGH RUGBY are considering a fresh approach to Hibs to request a ground share at Easter Road.

Executive chairman Alex Carruthers today made it clear that he would prefer to move newly-franchised Edinburgh sooner rather than later.

Carruthers' remarks came a day after the Evening News revealed a row involving the club and SRU bosses over bar revenues and other issues at Murrayfield.

Back in 1998, when they were known as the Reivers, Edinburgh rugby were hosted by Hibs. Carruthers did not want to commit himself to an alternative venue but did admit: "Easter Road is always a possibility for an approach."

Rugby fans have been quick to express the hope that the departure of Tony Mowbray, a strong opponent of accommodating rugby on the pitch, could lead to a breakthrough that would put Edinburgh on a par with London Wasps, Saracens and London Irish, who share with Wycombe Wanderers, Watford and Reading, respectively .

Carruthers added: "Edinburgh played at Easter Road in the old days of the Reivers and we will explore all options bearing in mind Hibs are a better option for a share than Hearts whose Tynecastle ground has limitations in terms of space for rugby."

It is understood that Edinburgh have yet to receive any money from the SRU despite their fans' use of the facilities at Murrayfield, hence the unrest in the club's management even if, publicly, they are committed to finding an amicable solution with the SRU.

While unwilling to be drawn on the exact issues involving Edinburgh and the SRU, Carruthers was adamant that the franchised outfit were right to fight their corner.

"Given the speed of the deal there are always going to be things that need to be revisited in terms of interpretation," he said.

Clearly social facilities for supporters are at the hub of matters, regardless of how revenues are distributed and Carruthers, a former Boroughmuir and North Midlands player, stressed the need for them. He said: "We want to generate and foster what I'd call a traditional club atmosphere and spirit. How do we do that if we are not actually in control of these things?"

Carruthers added that the situation had been brought into sharper focus by bigger-than-expected crowds, with a new Scottish record attendance for a European Cup match set for the visit of Leinster to Murrayfield last weekend.

Carruthers said: "We are probably where we expected to be on the pitch but off it we are well ahead. In terms of fulfilling our goal of 10,000 fans within five years we are ahead and what would help even more is some silverware."

An SRU spokesperson today laughed off any suggestion that the dispute might end up in court, saying: "This is not going to court, not at all. We have a very good relationship with Edinburgh Rugby whom we see as a role model for the other pro teams."

The spokesperson said it was inevitable there would be teething problems as the new franchise bedded in. "They (the Carruthers) are acclimatising in the rugby business having taken over the club some months ago."