Nicol critical of SRU’s missed chance

Date published: January 2 2015

Ex-Scotland star Andy Nicol has expressed his frustration at Scottish Rugby failing to bring more fans to the 1872 clash at Murrayfield.

Nicol, a former Scotland captain who played for the British and Irish Lions, highlighted Harlequins’ recent successful fixture at Twickenham over the Christmas period, when 82,000 watched the London club face Northampton Saints.

Highlighting the way Harlequins used the ‘Big Game’ brand and made efforts to promote the contest through social media, along with providing half-time entertainment, Nicol made his frustration clear at the SRU’s failure to capitalise on the event.

“I really think this game is a missed opportunity. I am told they are expecting a crowd of 12,000 to 14,000 which is way above Edinburgh’s average home attendance. But why are we not trying to fill Murrayfield?” said Nicol writing in the Daily Mail.

“Harlequins filled Twickenham’s 82,000 seats last week for their match against Northampton, Leinster move the Munster game to the Aviva and get 50,000 and Saracens have had 90,000 in Wembley.

“Scottish Rugby has marketed this game in the usual way they always market the game and, as a result, they will get the usual crowd.

“This was a great opportunity to try something different as everyone is looking for something to do by the 2nd January. I would love to have seen an attempt made to fill Murrayfield and try and attract the latent support for rugby that exists in Edinburgh.

“Remember, 38,000 fans came to Murrayfield to see Edinburgh play Toulouse in the Heineken Cup a few years ago so the support is there, it just needs to be attracted in.

“As usual at this time of the year, I have been at many social gatherings yet nobody was talking about the game at Murrayfield which is a shame. Aim for 60,000 and if you only get 40,000 on first attempt, make sure the experience is such that we fill it the following year.

“There is an element of a feel-good factor within Scottish Rugby with Glasgow doing so well and Scotland having a promising November Series so this was the time to try something different.”