Edinburgh: Myreside 'can be better than Glasgow's Scotstoun' - Andy Irvine

Andy Irvine is happy to see Edinburgh moving to a smaller venue
Irvine is happy to see Edinburgh moving to a smaller venue

Myreside can be "even better" than Glasgow's Scotstoun home in helping Edinburgh create a vibrant atmosphere, believes Scotland legend Andy Irvine.

The capital side have left Murrayfield to play their home games for the second half of the season in the more intimate surroundings of Watsonians' ground.

The new venture begins on Friday against Romanian side Timisoara Saracens in the European Challenge Cup.

"This will be even better than Scotstoun," Irvine told BBC Scotland.

"Glasgow have created a great atmosphere and a great support, and benefited hugely from that.

"This potentially could be even better because the players will be even closer to the spectators. There's no running track in between them and that makes a massive difference."

Temporary stands will initially give Myreside a capacity of just over 5,500 for Edinburgh's matches, though they may opt to move a European quarter-final back to Murrayfield if victory on Friday secures a home draw in the last eight.

A decision will then be taken on whether to continue at the ground next season, while Murrayfield, which holds 67,144, can still be used for the annual derby with Glasgow and bigger European ties.

Duncan Weir in action for Edinburgh against Leinster at Murrayfield
Irvine believes Murrayfield "was almost like a neutral venue" for Edinburgh in Pro12 games

Former Scotland and British & Irish Lions full-back Irvine, Edinburgh's chairman, believes Myreside "definitely has the potential to be a long-term solution" and can improve the side's on-field fortunes.

"Potentially the capacity might get to 7,000 or 8,000," he said. "I genuinely think we have a better chance of success here because of the atmosphere.

"If we start to win more games, you will get more people along and I would like to think within a few years we will play often to a packed house."

Glasgow, Pro12 champions in 2015, attracted 7,351 fans to Scotstoun for Saturday's narrow Champions Cup defeat by Munster.

"I personally think Edinburgh can match and probably surpass Glasgow when it comes to the potential for rugby support," added Irvine, who played against the All Blacks, Australia, Fiji and Romania at Myreside during his own career.

"Historically, it is only over the last 10 years that Glasgow have really outstripped Edinburgh in support. They have managed to do that because they have a great facility at Scotstoun, and Firhill before that.

"Edinburgh have been crying out for a smaller stadium for years. It has taken 20 years to get to this stage but I am 100% behind the move. I genuinely think it will make a massive difference.

"It will be a much better product to watch, a much better atmosphere, and I think the players will benefit as well. It is a tight pitch, they will be very close to the crowd and you do get inspired when the crowd gets behind you."

'A lot more intimidating for opposition teams'

Edinburgh Rugby managing director Jonny Petrie
Petrie thinks the move will create a better club identity for Edinburgh

Managing director Jonny Petrie also believes Edinburgh "can and should be" emulating the regular capacity crowds the Warriors attract to Scotstoun.

"They've done enormously well. It's a fantastic atmosphere at Scotstoun and they get great crowds there," said the former Glasgow and Scotland back-rower.

"I think what they've worked hard to do is to attract a new audience to watch rugby and we'll be doing that here as well. But equally there is a huge latent rugby audience in Edinburgh. It is a rugby city."

Petrie hopes their next two Pro12 games in particular - against Munster on 3 February, the evening before Scotland play Ireland in the Six Nations, and Cardiff Blues on 24 February, the day before Scotland host Wales, will bring bumper crowds to Myreside.

"There are always opportunities to take the big matches back to Murrayfield, but as much as possible we want to create a home for ourselves here," he told BBC Scotland.

"It's important that we play somewhere that we can sell out and also helps us create a bit of an identity as a club.

"We want to create somewhere that's a lot more intimidating for opposition teams, with a bit of a raw atmosphere."

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