This year's Scotland - Wales clash at Murrayfield marks the 40th anniversary of the notorious occasion when a world record crowd, roughly estimated at 104,000, packed into the Murrayfield ground to watch the two teams play.

Excitement had mounted ahead of the 1975 match. Wales had beaten France and England and had a Grand Slam in their sights. The resurgent Scots had beaten Ireland and looked good for a Triple Crown. With that backdrop, spectators came in unprecedented numbers.

Back then, with open terraces on three sides of the ground, Murrayfield internationals were not all-ticket. The SRU apparently had no way of knowing how many had come in until they counted the takings afterwards. As a result, the gates remained open and nobody called a halt.

The result was chaos. Spectators who had paid to get in could not find standing room to watch the game. Supporters besieged the SRU offices at the end demanding refunds - which the SRU refused. Asked afterwards how many people had packed into the ground, Union secretary John Law said: "That's our business."

Edinburgh city police took a dim view. From that point on, all Scotland games at Murrayfield became all-ticket affairs. For the record, Scotland won the game 12-10 thanks to three penalties by Dougie Morgan and a dropped goal by Ian McGeechan. They lost to England two weeks later so the Triple Crown eluded them. Wales went on to beat Ireland to take the Five Nations title.

Glasgow Herald. 3 March 1975.

Headline: We'll always keep a welcome.

Byline: Ian Archer.


Edinburgh was back in the hands of its own inhabitants yesterday. Only the occasional choir of Welshmen could be seen in Princes Street the morning after a sad St David's Day.

The trip trains left Haymarket Station for the long journey back to the valleys. They carried on them thousands of tired men - but, curiously, they did not contain supporters who felt bad in defeat. Some 30,000 from Wales proved on Saturday that they are among the world's best losers.

The Murrayfield International stood at the middle of a long, but not entirely lost weekend for the Welshmen, who came in small posses to Scotland, camps out in every hotel in a 50-mile radius of the goalposts, and who united for 80 minutes to watch their team get beaten. They suffered this minor inconvenience with great stoicism.

We observed them closely in the many bars of the North British Hotel in early evening. They sat on the stairways, slept fitfully up against the walls, acted with huge tolerance when the management informed them that there were no more pint glasses, and occasionally broke into song.

Among these hundreds, only one accosted us with less than complete politeness. "It was us that really won, boyo, by a try to nil." The rest proferred congratulations and extended the sincere wish that Scotland beat England at Twickenham by about 50-0 and so claim the triple Crown for the first time since 1938. We said thank you.

So we learned that the Welsh are good sports and good losers. They had started queueing at Murrayfield long before noon, they had watched some thousands of their countrymen feel to gain admittance, they had seen their own side handicapped by injury, and they had suffered as a draw was denied them but a few inches that stood between Martin's final conversion and another two points.

They had reacted well at the end of all that pilgrim's unfortunate progress. Scottish people of my acquaintance would merely have reached for the whisky bottle, poured 20oz into an empty stomach, and looked to state their case in uncompromising terms to any passing stranger.

The Welsh merely fill their bladders with beer, mournfully, privately. Unlike Scots, who would attempt to create a new world record for the quickest route to insensibility, the Welsh defuse their dejection at a steady pace, beer by beer, chipping away as at a narrow coalface.

Such care may be necessary when one comes from places like Pontadarwe, Glyncorrwg, Llantrisant and Croesceiliog, for those are difficult names to remember even when the brain is not unhinged. Some 30,000 Welshmen did their nation a power of good and they can come back any time to Edinburgh. Scots would welcome them, while cannily remembering to instruct their brokers to acquire a few more brewery shares.

The match was something of a watershed for Scottish Rugby, for never before has there been such crowd had any match in Britain, never before have people jumped from moving trains as they passed Murrayfield to ensure that they gained admission, and surely the game is now at the centre of this country's sporting traditions and aspirations.

This was not the regular Rugby crowd. To its usual numbers were added many who on other days might never have considered giving Ibrox, Parkhead, Tynecastle or Easter Road in this - but who are now anxious to sample the Murrayfield atmosphere. The whole spectrum of sporting Scotland was there, sardine-like, on the terraces.

They watched a brittle, nervous match, played nervously in bits and pieces, rather like an orchestra tuning up. The symphony that Rugby can produce in these days of better Laws, more careful planning and more thoughtful play never reached any crescendo at all. As in today's International football arena, feel led to inhibition, and inhibition curtailed all individual freedom.

But it was exciting and extracted the last bead of sweat and Scotland one by the narrowest of margins deep into injury time, possibly beyond. Road, rail and air routes now lead to Twickenham and if McLauchlan's team win there they go to New Zealand this summer to tackle the most important match of all - a Test against the All Blacks - as British champions. There will be no more important moment in Scottish sport this entire 12 months.

These are future thoughts. Saturday's experience confirmed Rugby's present place of honour. The only sadness, hearing these Welsh choir sing "Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau," is that Scotland does not possess its own national anthem. I wonder, respectfully, if the SRU will consider the point - as well is re-examining its ticket allocation system for future games. Those points apart, a splendid day.