Rescheduled games mean many fans will miss out

AT LEAST three club games have been rescheduled this weekend to times which will make it impossible for players and supporters to also go to Murrayfield to see Scotland's encounter with South Africa, which kicks-off at 2:30pm.

The championship rules dictate that club matches must be played at least two and a half hours before an international match, unless there are logistical problems and both clubs agree to ask the championship committee for a dispensation.

If that request is approved, kick-off time may be pushed back by as much as an hour, but the championship committee will never allow games to kick-off less than one and half hours before the start of an international match.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

That means the standard kick-off time this weekend is 12 noon. However, in Premier A, Dundee HSFP have been granted a dispensation to start their home match against Boroughmuir at 1pm, meaning that the teams will still be clapping each other off the field when Andy Robinson's men are singing the National Anthem 60-odd miles down the road.

In Premier B, Watsonians' home match against West of Scotland has also been moved to 1pm, meaning that members of one of the clubs located closest to Murrayfield will have to make a choice between club and country. Both dispensations were granted because the home teams don't own their ground and can't get access to the facility any earlier.

In National Division Two, Highland's home match against Kilmarnock has also been moved to 1pm, because of issues to do with travel.

Even with games kicking off at 12 noon, it is going to be exceptionally tricky for people outside the Edinburgh area to attend a club match and the international, as it leaves only an hour to get to Murrayfield. That means, for example, that supporters of Ayr and Glasgow Hawks will have to choose between attending this Saturday's crucial Premier A encounter - which looks certain to have a major bearing on the championship run-in - or going to Murrayfield.

With that game not due to finish until approximately 1:30pm, and a journey of around an hour and three quarters separating the two grounds, it will be impossible to attend both games.

This issue has been the source of considerable angst in recent years, with the SRU eager to ensure that as many rugby supporters as possible go to international matches, and are not distracted from doing so by club loyalty.On the other hand, clubs have felt frustrated by the challenges involved in fitting an already congested domestic fixture schedule around the international game.

Indeed, the creation of a mid-season split this year, which saw three smaller leagues of eight created after the clubs in Premier One and Premier Two had played each other once, was a response to the fixture backlogs which have caused both the clubs and the championship committee major headaches in recent seasons.

"I don't think any club wants their games to clash with an international match. Watsonians certainly didn't want that to happen," said club secretary Brian Drinkwater, who is also chairman of the Premier One Forum.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"Unfortunately we don't own our ground, the school does, and we can't get access until 12:30pm - so moving kick-off to 1pm was our only option.

"I'll be watching the first half of our game at Myreside and then heading off to Murrayfield for the international. I imagine quite a few people will do likewise. It's not ideal, but that's the situation we have got."