Murrayfield to host URC final if Glasgow qualify as top seed

League chief executive Martin Anayi confident stadium will have recovered from Taylor Swift concerts

Murrayfield Stadium is he home of Scottish Rugby. Image © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk
Murrayfield Stadium could host this year's BKT URC final - if Glasgow qualify as the top seeds. Image © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk

MARTIN Anayi, the chief executive of the BKT United Rugby Championship, has confirmed that Murrayfield will be the venue for this season’s final if Glasgow Warriors go through as the top seeds. Taylor Swift is playing three concerts at the national stadium this weekend, but Anayi is confident that the surface will have recovered by the final, which is on Saturday 22nd.  Scotstoun was ruled out because it is not big enough, while Celtic Park was considered as a possible alternative by the URC, but as Anayi explained redevelopment work is being carried out there over the football close season.

“We would play at Murrayfield if they got through to the final [as the home team] ,” Anayi said on a Zoom call with media this morning.  “We spoke to Celtic Park after having a final there a few years ago between Glasgow and Leinster. They’re doing some refurbishments inside the ground so that wasn’t available. So we’ll play it at Murrayfield.

“At this stage we might as well be Swifties, as Taylor Swift comes up [in discussions] about our final more than anything else!,” the chief executive continued when asked if Murrayfield would be ready for the final in the wake of the American’s concerts. “She’s obviously doing an unbelievable world tour right now.


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“It’s the yin and yang of playing in June. The yin, if that’s the positive, is that you see younger audiences engaged and coming to watch rugby, while the yang might be that it’s a little bit more difficult to secure some of these big stadiums. But we’re in good shape with Murrayfield I think.”

The Warriors are at home to the Stormers in Saturday’s quarter-final at Scotstoun, having finished fourth at the end of the regular URC season. Munster, the Bulls and Leinster are all seeded ahead of Franco Smith’s team having finished first, second and third respectively, and Glasgow would only get home-country advantage for the final if all three were eliminated.

If the Warriors beat the Stormers this weekend they will either be away to Munster or home to the Ospreys in the semi-final.

The Ospreys were the last club to qualify for the top eight, and had the advantage of playing in the last game of the regular season, hours after the likes of Benetton and Edinburgh had learned their fate. Anayi accepted that the principle of playing each last-round game  simultaneously was an attractive one, but suggested that broadcast interests would determine otherwise.

“In Pro12 and Pro14 we had simultaneous kick-offs [in the final round],” he said. “There is so much riding on these games that it would make sense to do that from a sporting point of view. Where we are in the world of broadcast, it tends to be something that they like spread throughout the weekend.

“It’s about balance between what we as fans want, which is probably to see the games kick off at the same time, and what our partners require a business need, which is having them spead out.

“It’s certainly something that would have enhanced what was a pretty cool end to the season. It tends to be broadcast-led.

“When we move into the next TV cycle, which is 2025-26, we’ll try to fill that in and see where we get to. Everybody in our office and around the world was waiting for that last try in the last game and that’s what you want – you want that jeopardy, you want that unknown quantity to your league and you want every game to mean something.

“I feel that in the last round we had almost every game being really meaningful and that’s great credit to the clubs pushing all the way through the season. There have been some upsets, there have been some teams going down to South Africa and not getting the wins they’d hoped for and vice-versa. And that’s what we want and that’s what fans want, isn’t it, that jeopardy?”

The URC is unusual in allowing fully half of its participants to qualify for the play-offs – and that, like the last-round kick-offs, has changed from the days of the PRO12 when only four teams went through. Anayi believes there are strong reasons for sticking with eight.

“Eight was brought in by our clubs, our sporting community, and we all collectively agreed to the format,” he added. “I think it gave our teams a sense of continuing to play right throughout the season – there’s always something to play for. 

“The top four are clearly getting home advantage, so there’s something for each layer of that top eight to play for. And then obviously from the EPCR point of view the top eight qualify through to the Champions Cup, unless like the Sharks did one of our teams win the Challenge Cup, and then it goes to the top seven. 

“I genuinely feel that actually the competition is in rude health. We’ve had almost every game being really meaningful and that’s what you try and aspire to in terms of getting jeopardy in your league, meaningful games in your league.

“I think we had 11 teams that could have qualified through to the final eight, and Ospreys with a two per cent chance of getting through did eight with all the results that went their way and they got the five points. So I’m really pleased with how it’s gone, genuinely. I wouldn’t change it.”


Royal High Rugby send out distress signal

About Stuart Bathgate 1436 Articles
Stuart has been the rugby correspondent for both The Scotsman and The Herald, and was also The Scotsman’s chief sports writer for 14 years from 2000.

10 Comments

  1. Seems a pointless article as I don’t see us getting the better of the stormers this weekend and the
    likelihood that three teams above us all get knocked out is ludicrous. If we must use a football stadium I would prefer it to be Hampden

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  2. Don’t imagine the TOL legal advisors wanting the comments switched on any time soon. Think enough of that has been played out in public already. The rest of Scottish rugby is enough of a soap opera without adding another storyline.

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  3. Glasgow getting to the final as top seed is about as likely as Taylor Swift playing at full back for the Warriors.

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  4. Disappointed to see comments turned off on the Hogg article. Debate should be allowed.

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    • Mark it’s absolutely right to turn off comments, and I hope both these are deleted rather than start a debate.
      It would no doubt have ended up with people having their say on his character or lifestyle and regardless of where you stand there is no need to allow that to take place. None of us have the right to debate his or any other players personal life.

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    • Were you looking to ‘debate’ his physical ability to come back from retirement and perform well at the top level?

      Or were you actually looking to cast aspersions on his personal character and off-field behaviour, at least some of which would no doubt be informed by rumours?

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      • Yes I was looking to debate what has changed in his physical condition which has allowed him to think of a return given that was the reason given for retiring.

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