Glasgow Warriors fans rail against the lack of Friday night matches at Scotstoun

The fixture list for the United Rugby Championship has all but signalled the end of Friday night home matches for Glasgow Warriors and Edinburgh, with the vast majority of games scheduled to take place on Saturdays in the first half of the season.

Friday night fixtures at Scotstoun have proved popular with Glasgow Warriors fans who have bought season tickets in record numbers for the new campaign. Picture: Bill Murray/SNS

Edinburgh will kick off with a home game at their new stadium against Scarlets on Saturday, September 25, while Glasgow’s opener is away to Ulster on the previous evening.

Edinburgh have been allocated just one home game on a Friday night in the first ten rounds of fixtures, against Benetton on December 3.

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Glasgow have none, a bone of contention for their supporters who have embraced Friday night rugby at Scotstoun. They regularly sell out the venue and have already bought season tickets in record numbers for the new campaign.

The new Edinburgh Rugby stadium will host its first match against Newcastle Falcons next month (Photo by Ross Parker / SNS Group)

Many took to social media to articulate their displeasure, with some angry at being forced to choose between watching Warriors and a club match on a Saturday.

“We are as disappointed as many supporters are at the lack of Friday night rugby for the first part of the season,” said Robert Stewart, chair of the supporters’ group, the XVIth Warrior. “We have been told by Warriors management that every effort was made to rectify the situation but with the current Covid situation and lack of time it was not possible to get back to Friday nights at the moment.

“We hope that they will be more successful in the second half of the season. It is a huge problem for loyal supporters who also play, or take their children to play, for a local team. Grassroots rugby will suffer as many fans try to support local teams.

“Glasgow fans love the idea of Friday night rugby so hopefully we can get back to that.”

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Danny Wilson, the Glasgow coach, said: “We requested Friday night fixtures and I think there are ongoing conversations for the second block of games to try and get those Friday night fixtures,” said Wilson. “But the bigger picture is we’re back playing rugby in front of a crowd at Scotstoun, which will be brilliant whenever that is. But a few more Fridays would be good.”

While every game will be shown live on TV, Scotland is notable for having no free-to-air coverage. BBC Wales and S4C will broadcast 75 per cent of live games involving Welsh clubs, while BBC Northern Ireland will show Ulster games.

Scottish viewers will be able to access the Welsh channels via digital platforms but Edinburgh’s and Glasgow’s games will be shown on pay-TV by Premier Sports.

A spokesperson for BBC Scotland said: “We are exploring options for coverage of the URC.”

The Scottish sides will meet each other in festive derbies, at Scotstoun on December 27 and in Edinburgh on January 2, which will double up as 1872 Cup games. The inter-city trophy will be decided on aggregate and there will be no third match.

Edinburgh and Glasgow will head to South Africa in the spring to play two matches each. Edinburgh will take on the Sharks and the Lions while Glasgow will face the Stormers and the Bulls.

New Edinburgh coach Mike Blair said: “We’ve got a brand-new stadium, so hopefully we’re going to get a really big, noisy crowd in there to get behind the boys.”

United Rugby Championship fixtures

Glasgow Warriors

Fri Sept 24: Ulster (a) 19:35

Sat Oct 2: Cell C Sharks (h) 15:00

Sat Oct 9: Emirates Lions (h) 15:00

Sat Oct 16: Zebre (a) 13:00

Sat Oct 23: Leinster (h) 15:00

Sat Nov 27: Benetton (a) 13:00

Sat Dec 4: Dragons (h) 17:15

Mon Dec 27: Edinburgh (h) 19:00

Sun Jan 2: Edinburgh (a) 14:00

Sat Jan 8: Ospreys (h) 17:15

Jan 28/29/30: Connacht (a)

Feb 18/19/20: Benetton (h)

Mar 4/5/6: Scarlets (a)

Mar 25/26/27: Cardiff (a)

Apr 1/2/3: Zebre (h)

Apr 22/23/24: DHL Stormers (a)

April 29/30 & May 1: Vodacom Bulls (a)

May 20/21/22: Munster (h)

Edinburgh

Sat Sept 25: Scarlets (h) 17:15

Sat Oct 2: Benetton (a) 13:00

Sat Oct 9: DHL Stormers (h) 17:15

Sat Oct 16: Vodacom Bulls (h) 17:15

Sat Oct 23: Zebre (a) 13:00

Sat Nov 27: Dragons (a) 17:15

Fri Dec 3: Benetton (h) 19:35

Mon Dec 27: Glasgow Warriors (a) 19:00

Sun Jan 2: Glasgow Warriors (h) 14:00

Sat Jan 8: v Cardiff (h) 15:00

Jan 28/29/30: Ospreys (a)

Feb 18/19/20: Munster (a)

Mar 4/5/6: Connacht (h)

Mar 25/26/27: Cell C Sharks (a)

Apr 1/2/3: Emirates Lions (a)

Apr 22/23/24: Zebre (h)

April 29/30 & May 1: Ulster (h)

May 20/21/22: Leinster (a)

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