Responsible Drinking Set To Make A Welcome Return To Murrayfield

Fans should once again be able to enjoy a pint of beer during Scotland’s upcoming Rugby World Cup matches at the home of Scottish rugby in September. Justice Cabinet Secretary Kenny MacAskill has agreed that national laws which ban the sale of alcohol at designated sports grounds for certain events will no longer include senior men’s international rugby matches.Fans should once again be able to enjoy a pint of beer during Scotland’s upcoming Rugby World Cup matches at the home of Scottish rugby in September.

Justice Cabinet Secretary Kenny MacAskill has agreed that national laws which ban the sale of alcohol at designated sports grounds for certain events will no longer include senior men’s international rugby matches.

It will now be up to Edinburgh City Licensing Board to consider any application that Scottish Rugby put forward for upcoming international matches.

This move is a trial and Ministers will be looking carefully at the effect this change has, particularly in relation to responsible alcohol retailing and public safety.

In return, Scottish Rugby is making clear that it is committed to supporting the promotion of responsible drinking throughout Scotland. Furthermore it is also committed to increasing the existing development of grassroots rugby projects - including those designed to engage youngsters at risk of entering a life of crime.

Mr MacAskill said: “There is a world of difference between people drinking a bottle of cheap cider in a park to get drunk and enjoying a pint of beer at half time of a rugby match.

“We’ve listened to representations from fans, Scottish Rugby and the police. The fans can’t understand why they can have a drink at Twickenham and the Millennium Stadium and at some rugby games and not others. They want to be able to enjoy a civilised drink during international matches at Murrayfield.

“That’s why after careful consideration I’m removing the restriction on alcohol being sold at rugby internationals. But let me be clear – this is not a licence to binge drink, to go to the rugby and get drunk.

“We have discussed these measures with Scottish Rugby and there will be limits in place, measures to make sure responsible drinking is encouraged and stewards have the powers to take action against anyone who is causing a nuisance or making trouble.

“I’m also keen to see how extra revenues for Scottish Rugby from alcohol sales will now be re-invested in grass roots rugby activities – providing more activities for young people who often rightly complain that there isn’t enough for them to do.

“This Government will also be closely monitoring how this works in practice and we will not hesitate to reintroduce the ban if necessary.”

Today's announcement has been warmly welcomed by Scottish Rugby's Chief Executive Gordon McKie. He said: "This is excellent news for Scottish Rugby and we will ensure the sale of alcohol at future Murrayfield internationals is managed responsibly.

"We are committed to growing the game and getting rugby out into all communities. Any financial benefit gained by the responsible sale of alcohol at Murrayfield will enable us to put even more investment into the grassroots, including facilities in the Community game.

"We believe sport can play its part in reducing crime. Inspiring youngsters through our Scotland players to take up rugby is a priority.”