Record numbers roar on Scotland

More than half a million fans turned out to watch professional rugby in Scotland last season (553,969) as the sport continues its rapid rise in popularity.

Close to 70,000 Scotland fans have now filled Scotland’s biggest stadium, BT Murrayfield, on the past eight consecutive occasions, a significant upturn from the six sell-outs enjoyed in the previous four years (2013-16).

The atmosphere during the nail-biting performance against World Champions New Zealand, the record-breaking Hopetoun Cup win over Australia and the Calcutta Cup success over England all rank highly in the memorable moments that keep Scotland fans coming back for more.

The challenge for Scottish Rugby’s Head of Marketing and Sponsorship, Toni Blackhurst, and her team is therefore to ensure the world-class rugby on the pitch is backed by an outstanding match-day experience off it.

She said: “We thrive on delivering an unrivalled match-day experience which goes way beyond the 80 on-field minutes into a five-hour festival in the stadium grounds.

“We have invested a lot of time to understand our audience better, with a targeted approached to delivering for, and communicating with, new fans, families, young professionals, students, eventers and die-hard supporters.

“Understanding our support and the appeal of the opposition informs our efforts to cater for these groups through new and innovative offerings, be that artisan food and drink outlets, big-screen content, ticket pricing and our match-day presentation as a whole, whether that be in-bowl entertainment or the range of activities our sponsors deliver.”

Social media connecting fans with Scottish Rugby 

Blackhurst explained that the growing strength of Scottish Rugby’s online, social media and broadcast channels are also critical in bringing fans closer to the action, with Scottish Rugby content during the Calcutta Cup weekend reaching over seven million fans at home and overseas.

Blackhurst added: “We pride ourselves on keeping fans informed and connected to our teams.

“Our marketing is very much focused on digital, social and direct channels. Regular communication to an audience of over 700,000 through social media is critical to our approach and, while we may not have the biggest fan base, we pride ourselves on having the most engaged fans of all the home nations.”

The burgeoning support shows no signs of relenting as 21,000 Scotland season tickets for the forthcoming 2018/19 season were either auto-renewed or sold out in the first day of sales, with the number of seats sold through multi-game packages up by 100,000 on the 39,000 sold when they were first launched six years ago.

Demand is also up for season tickets at Glasgow Warriors (who have sold out every home match at Scotstoun for the past two seasons) and Edinburgh, who this season announced their bid for planning permission to install a new playing venue in the grounds of BT Murrayfield, which will have a capacity of up to 7,800.

Scotland Women made the Warriors’ stadium home with two record crowds, including the 3,278 who watched them play in England in the Women’s Six Nations.

“The key is that, while you can do everything in your power to lay a platform, it’s the fans who create the atmosphere,” added Blackhurst.

“It’s important that the sport remains accessible and affordable – through initiatives like our direct debit options for season passes and kids’ tickets for a pound for the sell-out match against Samoa in November – to ensure we continually attract new audiences and reward loyal supporters.

“The performance of the national team helps to attract crowds and the experience keeps them coming back, with the sell-out crowds not only benefitting the team through creating a fantastic atmosphere but generating essential income that’s reinvested back into the game, where thousands more turn out to watch club rugby locally.”