Is Murrayfield the ultimate rugby stadium? Our writers have their say on Ugo Monye's praise of Scottish ground

BBC pundit and former England international Ugo Monye praised Murrayfield after Scotland's landmark Calcutta Cup win on Saturday - but is he right about the roar, or is it more of a Murrayfield murmur? Our writers have their say

Speaking on the Rugby Union podcast for the BBC, former England international and British and Irish Lion Ugo Monye wished that the atmosphere at Twickenham, England's national stadium, was more akin to Murrayfield.

He said: "I would love Twickenham to resemble Murrayfield. Full of energy, full of enthusiasm. We hear a lot about the connection between the players and the stands. It's there - it's there at Murrayfield. I absolutely love the noise, the sound, the fans were still there in their tens of thousands after the final whistle."

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Monye added that he'd love England's on the field play to resemble Scotland's 'ruthless' performance too.

All this got us thinking - do we, as Scotland's national newspaper and as ardent Scottish rugby fans, agree that Murrayfield is the ultimate stadium in the Six Nations? Does Edinburgh's mighty park have the best atmosphere in Europe? Our writers got together to make the cases for and against.

'Better in the old days' or a place still to be 'as one'? Maybe Taylor Swift with be the saviour.

Have a read then have your say in the comments below.

Graham Bean (Rugby Correspondent): 'Dear old Murrayfield'

Murrayfield is a special place to watch rugby and it’s a privilege to report on games from the press box in the middle of the west stand.

As well as sitting in one of the best seats in the house you have the Scotland coaches’ box directly behind you and can hear occasional shouts of joy and despair from Gregor Townsend and his assistants.

Scotland and Glasgow Warriors centre Huw Jones is in demand.Scotland and Glasgow Warriors centre Huw Jones is in demand.
Scotland and Glasgow Warriors centre Huw Jones is in demand.

While the media are detached enough to work away in their own little section there is no real separation between us and the supporters which allows you to experience the atmosphere first hand. Of course, given this is a prime viewing area the rows in front of the press benches tend to be filled with the well-healed, visiting dignitaries and a smattering of celebs. Gerard Butler was a couple of rows in front of me at the England game on Saturday and Gavin Hastings and Gordon Strachan were within touching distance when Scotland played France a fortnight before.

One thing that the Murrayfield press box is not big on is space. By the time you’ve opened your laptop, got out your notepad and folded yourself into your seat there is barely enough room to move. And woe betide you if you need to go to the toilet during the match. Such disruptions can be met with a sharp rebuke.

I’ve been lucky enough to cover matches in Cardiff, Dublin, Twickenham, Rome, Paris and Marseille in recent years and it’s fair to say that dear old Murrayfield is starting to look a little tired in places compared to some of these stadiums. The press facilities tend to be bigger and more modern in the aforementioned grounds and it's fair to say that an upgrade is probably overdue.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Rachel Mackie (Audience Engagement Editor): 'I adore it'

I used to work in a bar around the west end of Princes Street, and you can imagine what rugby weekends were like. Busy busy.

I remember a group of French lads coming in one day, conspicuously not on a day that France were playing at Murrayfield. I laughingly told them they’d done some bad planning, and they said that every 6 Nations, they made the effort to come to Edinburgh to see a game at Murrayfield.

Sometimes it would be their team when they were here, and other times, it would be another random game. They loved Murrayfield, they loved watching Scotland play, the atmosphere, the fans. All of it.

I couldn’t agree more. I adore Murrayfield. I think a lot of it has to do with Edinburgh itself. Get off the bus, go to brunch, or lunch, have a few pints, walk with thousands of others to the stadium, watch a game that is, given how Scotland play, often entirely unpredictable.

If anyone is able to snatch a last minute victory, or defeat, it’s us. This creates a truly electric atmosphere. Fans who are there in the snow and rain, in love with their team and the game regardless of the result, as one.

Duhan van der Merwe scores his second try of the match during Scotland's clash with England at Murrayfield.Duhan van der Merwe scores his second try of the match during Scotland's clash with England at Murrayfield.
Duhan van der Merwe scores his second try of the match during Scotland's clash with England at Murrayfield.

David Hepburn (Writer at Large): 'First nail in the coffin'

I've been going to Murrayfield for nearly 40 years - a neat pile of programmes stored in a drawer testament to my regular attendance at Five Nations, Six Nations and Autumn International games.

There were also the Rugby World Cup games of 1991, the 1993 Rugby World Cup Sevens, the somewhat baffling brief popularity of the Scottish Claymores American Football team, and a string of concerts by some of the biggest names in music (The Red Hot Chili Peppers also played).

With apologies to anybody under the age of 40, I'm sorry to report that it genuinely was better in the old days.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

To experience the atmosphere as David Sole slowly walked his players out to take on the English in the victorious Grand Slam game of 1990 was to be a part of sporting legend.

The scrapping of the terraces - where the noise of a standing crowd tightly packed onto tiered concrete could be physically felt on one's face - was the first nail in the coffin.

Pitch invasions which traditionally heralded the final whistle were banned as exuberant passion made way for corporate sheen - attendance at Murrayfield a career ladder-advancing box-tick devoid of any real interest in rucks and mauls.

Then came the always-open bars and the constant trails of people leaving and returning from their seats with pints, then to the toilet, then back to the beer-slingers - the game an incidental part of a day that may as well have never left the pub. Where Glasgow has the Hampden Roar, Edinburgh settles for the Murrayfield Murmur.

Still, all is not lost - I'm pretty sure Taylor Swift will resurrect the stadium's missing atmosphere this June.

Scott Reid (Business Correspondent): 'Dark and foreboding?'

Few stadia can match Murrayfield for atmosphere when the gods and the weather are smiling.

I’ve been there countless times for some thrilling and not-so-thrilling encounters involving the oval ball. However, for me, the place really comes into its own as a concert venue.

The acoustics shouldn’t work yet they do. I was blown away by the Eagles playing there in 2022 and Springsteen doing his thing last summer. It helped having a lofty seat in the west stand with its view of the capital’s iconic vista set against a darkening summer evening’s sky.

Quite a setting to experience a once-in-a-lifetime gig.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

And almost majestic enough to dismiss Murrayfield’s shortcomings, which include its horrendously tight turnstiles and vertiginous climb to its upper reaches.

My main bugbear, however, has to be the toilets. Not the (semi) posh ones in hospitality - they are perfectly acceptable.

I’m talking about the dark foreboding ones located beneath the seating and designated for the mere plebs.

Resembling the hell that were the bogs in my old secondary school, and frequently bereft of running water by the end of a major event, my advice is to try holding it in for a couple of hours.



Want to join the conversation? Please or to comment on this article.