Edinburgh players look to feed off noisy atmosphere at new stadium as library days are left behind

When Edinburgh played at Murrayfield it used to be nicknamed ‘the Library’ by the opposition because it was so quiet. Now, at the club’s new stadium, the teams run out to ‘Invaders Must Die’ by the Prodigy.

Edinburgh's players relished the atmosphere in their new stadium as they defeated Scarlets 26-22, with Darcy Graham, centre, scoring two tries. Picture: Paul Devlin/SNS
Edinburgh's players relished the atmosphere in their new stadium as they defeated Scarlets 26-22, with Darcy Graham, centre, scoring two tries. Picture: Paul Devlin/SNS

While no-one is suggesting the hosts wish ill on their guests, there is a sense that visitors to the capital can expect a bit of a rough ride this season.

The ground is compact and atmospheric, with stands built just about as close as is possible to the artificial playing surface.

There were 5,330 fans inside on Saturday evening, the vast majority urging their team to victory over Scarlets. The last ten minutes were particularly noisy as the Welsh visitors tried in vain to rescue the match. During those tense final moments home forwards Jamie Ritchie and Connor Boyle both implored the crowd to up the decibel levels and the supporters responded in kind.

The United Rugby Championship match between Edinburgh and Scarlets was a noisy affair at the DAM Health Stadium. Picture: Ross Parker/SNS

It was, as Scottish Rugby chief Mark Dodson noted at the SRU agm on Sunday, “very un-Edinburgh”.

The move to the 7,800-capacity DAM Health Stadium is long overdue and Dodson and Co must bear some of the responsibility for the time it has taken the club to find a home of their own. Rattling around Murrayfield for so long did them no favours and, as it turns out, the solution was on their doorstep all along.

Boyle, the young flanker, has fond memories of watching Edinburgh as a kid at the international stadium but he recognises that the new ground is far better suited to their needs and feels the atmosphere can really help the team.

“The fans take us over the last 10 minutes of a game,” he said. “We’ve not had that before, and it’s definitely turned a page for this club. I’m a passionate player myself, so having those people you can feed off is incredible.

Connor Boyle thinks the Edinburgh players can feed off the fans this season, and vice-versa. Picture: Paul Devlin/SNS

“The players playing well feed the crowd and the crowd being up for it feeds the players, really. We are very confident in our playing style and we’ve got a lot of belief to go out there and play some exciting rugby, because that will excite the fans and get everyone down here.

“Murrayfield was a good place to have fans, but this is completely different. We’re about 10 metres away from the fans and you can almost hear everyone when you’re playing. So just to have them shouting and cheering you on gives you an extra bit of passion in each tackle and carry to take you forward.”

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It’s early days yet, but Saturday’s win in their opening match in the United Rugby Championship was a highly encouraging start to the Mike Blair era at Edinburgh and the raucousness created inside the new stadium should attract more fans to the ground.

“I’ve had a few of my friends come down who have not been to Edinburgh games before and they’re really impressed with it,” added Boyle. “I used to have a season ticket at Edinburgh when I was a young kid, and a night event is completely different to what it was.

“The stadium does help, bringing everyone a bit closer. I think what we’ve got this year with this facility is definitely a hell of a lot more enthusiastic and exciting to have for the fans.”

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