Scottish Rugby returned this past weekend to BT Murrayfield with a derby game that saw Edinburgh Rugby host their close Pro14 rivals Glasgow Warriors at the National Stadium. There was a welcome addition of 700 fans to the stadium and working with the Scottish government they were pleased to be of the first professional rugby match in the UK to have a live crowd since the Covid crisis shut down sport in March.

We’re pleased to have been a key partner working with Scottish Rugby to bring fans back into the ground. We spoke with Kerry Halliday, Head of Group Ticketing & Customer Engagement for Scottish Rugby about their experience of the day and what went into making it happen.

When were you given the green light to bring in visitors to Murrayfield?

We have been working closely with The Scottish Government throughout this period to help communicate vital public health messaging to our grassroots clubs and also to prepare a detailed and thorough proposal to allow fans back into BT Murrayfield to watch a live match. We were extremely pleased to be given the green light just a week before the event itself by the Scottish Government and it has been a huge collective effort from everyone at Scottish Rugby and the two clubs, Edinburgh and Glasgow Warriors to make it happen.

What were the biggest barriers to getting fans back on Friday?

We’re a well-oiled events machine and have an amazing team here to help overcome any barriers, but we’ve worked closely with the Scottish Government to ensure all necessary public health mitigations have been put in place to ensure the safety of the fans, staff and players. in addition to existing procedures for gamedays the additional COVID related add-ons included:

  • Anyone who has tested positive for COVID-19, showing symptoms, been in contact with anyone who has tested positive or returning from a country which is required to quarantine were not allowed to attend the event.
  • Single household groups only (must live in same house, no extended bubbles).
  • Tickets could not be sold or transferred out of the household.
  • Face coverings were to be worn at all times.
  • No bags except for medical reasons.
  • Event was restricted to members or invited guests who live within the local area and they had to accept our new terms and conditions. This was to limit travel nationally and create a low impact event.
  • We also staggered entry points and times for fans to ease any possible crowd congestion which would compromise social distancing
  • All tickets were digital / print at home.

All of these were closely monitored throughout the day and we were working closely with the stewarding team to give them the support they needed to help manage the fans. We knew there was quite a big spotlight on us to deliver a successful event and we’re pleased that this was the case.

Socially Distanced Fans at BT Murrayfield for Edinburgh Rugby versus Glasgow Warriors on August 28, 2020, in Edinburgh, Scotland. (Photo by Ross Parker / SNS Group/SRU)

With the shift to digital ticketing are you finding this a challenge?

Yes, but it is more perception than reality. We’re using the Ticketmaster Sport digital ticketing platform to help distribute tickets and we know in the long run the adoption of digital will be more about education of its benefits and guiding people through that process.

Did you speak to any other clubs about the trial event?

We spoke to fellow Ticketmaster Sport family Surrey Cricket, to discuss their experiences of putting on the Pilot event, which proved to be really useful. It is also extremely handy that our Account Manager Rob Holmes who was at the Surrey test event has been on hand to walk us through everything they did on the day and support us in our decisions.

How was the day? Was it deemed a success?

It went extremely well, the fans were really positive about the return as were the team and we’re looking forward to increasing capacity and getting more fans back into Scottish stadiums once we have reviewed this first event and we can continue to give Scottish Government the confidence live sport with crowds is safe to resume. It is a step by step approach right now.

What are you looking forward to most as we continue to return to live?

We want BT Murrayfield and all of our Scottish stadiums to be rocking with fans, we’re really excited about seeing live rugby again but without fans it’s just not the same. We will get there but we just need to take every day as it comes and build on the successes of this Pilot event and continue to work with the Scottish Government and wider events industry to achieve this.