MURRAYFIELD'S back pitches are to be opened up again to supporters for RBS Six Nations Championship matches in the latest move by the new SRU management to improve the matchday experience for rugby supporters.
The area covering six grass pitches was a popular pre and post-match meeting place for around 2,000 people, with picnics springing up across the part-time car park behind the West Stand. Scotland - and on occasion visiting - players often mingled with supporters.
The car park was closed after the Emirates Sevens in June 2008 for work on a new Water of Leith flood prevention scheme and the Edinburgh tram scheme. That cost the SRU two of the pitches but came with a compensation payment from City of Edinburgh Council that enabled the creation of four upgraded training pitches, including a third generation (3G) artificial pitch, as well as a new drainage system and floodlighting.
The SRU had intended to re-open the car park but, after consultation with coaches and the new pitch manufacturers this was dropped in order to protect the enhanced quality of the national training facility, which is also used to stage club, women's and Scotland age-grade games.
The lock-out has remained a bugbear for supporters, however, with car parking poor around Murrayfield.
New SRU chief executive, Mark Dodson, has moved quickly to strike a compromise deal as part of his campaign to turn back the clock on a number of decisions made by his predecessor, Gordon McKie, that saved the SRU money but had the effect of switching supporters off Scottish rugby.
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