IS the rugby on at the moment? I don’t know. That sort of thing passes me by. All games with high scores are absurd to me. I don’t approve of pushing and shoving either. It’s disgraceful.

Murrayfield Stadium is the biggest sporting arena in Scotland (fifth largest in the UK), with a seating capacity of 67,144, so it’s a pity it plays host to rugby.

Regular readers know this column generally takes a scurrilous tone. It’s deplorable, really, and I’m ashamed of myself. But there it is. Given that context, it would be fair to warn you I’ve a score to settle with rugby.

At primary school, I’d been player of the year at football, but at secondary (a state school) all we got was rugby (and, worse still, cricket).

I protested this so the wretched PE teacher made me kick the absurdly shaped rugby ball for a penalty or some such tomfoolery. 

The mud-encrusted ovoid trundled a few pathetic feet up the pitch. It was a humiliating moment, dealt with in chapters 16 through 27 of my forthcoming memoir, Hand Me Doon Ma Hallucinogenics.

I never went back to PE, sitting instead in the botanic gardens reading science-fiction. And so I grew up a pathetic physical specimen. 

Later, in my last (fifth) year at school, right enough, when we went comprehensive, we got proletarian football and I went back and was called Gerald or Humphrey or something by the teacher, who’d forgotten my real name.

In later life, I attended Murrayfield Stadium twice, once for a press conference about something I can’t remember, and another time for a football event with free booze, after which I took a shortcut home through some woods. 

Utterly sloshed, I stopped for a wizz at the top of a slope, which I proceeded to fall down, rolling over and over helplessly. Continuing home with mud and sticks all over me, sundry passing yahoos laughed that I looked like Worzel Gummidge.

But I digress. Anything to avoid talking about ruddy rugby, a boring game which stops every five seconds and has no flow to it. 

Go west
As for Murrayfield Stadium (known comically enough as Scottish Gas Murrayfield Stadium for sponsorship reasons), it’s to be found in the western or dark part of Edinburgh, where Hearts’ football stadium and Edinburgh Zoo are also located.

Murrayfield was opened in 1925, after the Scottish Rugby Union looked in their blazer pockets and found the cash (raised through debentures) to buy 19 acres, having outgrown their previous venue near Inverleith allotments.

England were the first team to visit Murrayfield, with 70,000 slack-jawed oafs watching Scotland win to take the “Grand Slam”. Such a lot of nonsense. During the Second World War, Murrayfield was taken over by the Royal Army Service Corps, who put it to better use as a supply depot.

In 1975, the stadium played host to a record attendance of 104,000, who saw Scotland defeat Wales 12-10 in the Five Nations Championship (representing the small number of countries interested in the sport). This attendance stood as a world record until 1999, and remains a European record. Struggling to stay awake here.

Interestingly – stay by me now – the pitch was damaged by nematodes in the lead-up to the 2013 autumn internationals. You can get a cream for that nowadays.

The Herald:

Kick out the Jambos
SUBTLY shifting our focus back to football, in 2003 the SRU let Hearts lease the stadium for match days, while the footer team made improvements to its own ground. 

Both Hearts and more handsome Edinburgh neighbours Hibernian have played friendlies against Barcelona at Murrayfield, with Hibs narrowly losing 6-0 in an end-to-end encounter. Sorry, an end encounter.

In 2014, Celtic played two qualifying matches at Murrayfield, while Parkhead hosted some events at the Official Boring Commonwealth Games. Hearts again used the stadium for home games in 2017/18, due to delays in constructing a new stand at Tynecastle. 

Murrayfield has also hosted pre-season friendlies between Liverpool and Napoli and, more recently, Manchester United vs Lyon.

As if rugby weren’t absurd enough, Murrayfield has also played host to American football, which is so mental that practitioners wear crash helmets and big jessie shoulder pads. The Edinburgh stadium was one of two home venues for the now thankfully defunct Scottish Claymores in the NFL Europa between 1995 and 2004, the other being Glasgow’s Hampden Park. 

Additionally, Murrayfield hosted crockery championship, the World Bowl, in 1996.

Late and the good
STAYING mercifully away from rugger for the moment, various, mostly deplorable, pop acts have played to audiences of inebriates at Murrayfield: the late David Bowie (1983); the late Tina Turner (1996); U2 (1997); the late but still performing Rolling Stones (1999 and 2018); Celine Dion (1999); Live 8 (2005); Oasis (2000 and 2009); Bon Jovi (2011); Madonno, if that is the name (2012); Some Directions (2014); Foo Fighters (2015); The Spice 
Persons (2019).

Reluctantly returning to the alleged sport, Edinburgh rugby used to be played at Murrayfield but, since 2021, has had a 7,800-capacity stadium of its own next door. 

Earlier this year, former Scottish Conservative Party leader Ruth Davidson – Baroness Davidson of Lundin Links – was appointed as a non-executive director to the Scottish Rugby Limited Board.

That’s the sort of person the game attracts. Someone who can wear a Barbour jacket without embarrassment. With its bourgeois or Borders fans famous for belting out Flower Of Scotland then voting against independence, the sport’s official motto in Scotland is: “Proud Scot but …”

One area in which rugby is superior to football is that, as far as I can make out, you’re allowed to drink. Preferably while playing. 

Football is mostly patronised by lower-class vulgarians who approach sport in the correct Corinthian spirit, swearing, shouting abuse and rioting when the other fellows win a throw-in. Alcohol is not advised during such robust, manly activity.

Rugby, to its credit (let us end on a positive note), does not attract “fans” as such, in the sense of fanatics, or these days “ultras”, sad people with no lives. Rugby can at least lay claim to a civilised clientele. 

Many fans take in Tupperware boxes of salad to eat at half-time.

At kiosks, the most requested alcoholic drink is Malibu.