1,000 fans at Edinburgh-Glasgow rematch is a significant boost

Richard Cockerill and Danny Wilson welcome news that limited number of supporters will be allowed at Murrayfield on Friday
Richard Cockerill hopes that the limited attendance at Friday's game will be something to build on. Picture: Nigel French/PA WireRichard Cockerill hopes that the limited attendance at Friday's game will be something to build on. Picture: Nigel French/PA Wire
Richard Cockerill hopes that the limited attendance at Friday's game will be something to build on. Picture: Nigel French/PA Wire

The coaches of both Edinburgh and Glasgow Warriors believe having a limited number of fans at BT Murrayfield next weekend will be a great step forward as rugby finally resumes in Scotland amid the slow easing of restrictions due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Just under 1,000 supporters will be able to attend Friday’s clash, becoming the first rugby match in the UK to host spectators since the shutdown in March.

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Speaking before the Scottish government confirmed the pilot event could go ahead, Edinburgh coach Richard Cockerill said: “If we can get some spectators in for the second game we can start building. As a union we’ve worked very hard to get to this point, so if we can get some supporters in and make sure it’s safe and viable, hopefully we can build that and keep growing the support for every game, leading to the Test matches as well.

“The SRU have worked very hard to make this bio-bubble as safe as possible. Hopefully we can keep building up until we can get into Autumn Internationals and Six Nations and get a crowd that’s viable to pay the bills, I suppose.”

Glasgow counterpart Danny Wilson said: “We all want to be playing in front of big crowds, they are the games you are excited about and motivated about. Playing at Scotstoun without a crowd, for example, will be very, very different because every time I have been there as an away coach or watching games on my Scotland remit, the atmosphere is massive, and it drives players on – it adds that little bit of extra zip and bounce, and it is that much more intimidating.”

This evening’s comeback for rugby in Scotland as the suspended Guinness Pro14 resumes, will be behind closed doors and Cockerill added: “These derby days at Murrayfield for us are big occasions. We’re used to getting 20,000-plus in for these games.

“We’ve had a little bit of a wry smile this week about we’re used to playing in an empty stadium, so it shouldn’t affect us as much as Glasgow. Our players are pretty good at adapting. I think the crowd makes a huge difference. It’s tough for Glasgow cos this is their home game and they’re at Murrayfield.

“Glasgow certainly at Scotstoun in front of a home crowd – that makes a huge difference for them. Ourselves playing in the national stadium and it’s such a big stadium, but we get huge crowds for these games. I think it makes a difference and it adds to the occasion, but it will be interesting to see how both teams deal with the flatness of the atmosphere.

“We’ve got to create that for ourselves and just adapt and get on with it. Hopefully we’ll do that well. We’ve prepared as well as we can with the cards we’ve been dealt. Like all the games we’ve seen when they’ve come back out of lockdown, it’s just who can get back to doing the basics really well and hit the ground running.”

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