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A rugby fan’s guide to… Edinburgh

Guinness PRO12 Editor

8 Aug 2017

Fans will have a couple of new destinations to visit in an expanded Guinness Pro14 this year, but an old favourite of many fans is the majestic city of Edinburgh.

One of the few global cities to be built around an imposing castle, Edinburgh has an instant visual impact and more than enough attractions to leave a lasting one.

Here is everything you need to know when visiting Scotland’s capital city.

History

The city is located in the Scottish region of Lothian, on the Firth of Forth’s southern shore, and has been recognised as the capital of Scotland since at least the 15th century.

Edinburgh is the seventh most populous city in the UK and attracts over a million overseas visitors each year, many of them visiting for the Edinburgh Fringe Festival which is the world’s largest annual arts festival.

The areas surrounding Edinburgh Castle, the Old and New Town, are listed together as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and their network of staired alleyways add to a wonderful maze of pubs, restaurants and landmarks.

Five things to do

The 67,144 seater BT Murrayfield Stadium is the largest sports ground in Scotland and offers tours Monday-Saturday at 11am with additional tours on Thursday and Friday at 2.30pm – the stadium hosts some Guinness Pro14 games and has seen some momentous international matches over the years.

Inpho

Edinburgh Castle is one of the UK’s most famous tourist attractions and sits atop an extinct volcano – the actor-led tours offer a colourful and rich retelling of the city’s history.

The castle isn’t the only high ground around the city centre – Arthur’s Seat is the main peak of a group of hills around Edinburgh and at 250m it offers a relatively easy hike with spectacular views.

Edinburgh also has a beautiful canal – the Union Canal runs through Fountainbridge, Polwart, and Slateford and visitors can canoe, boat or walk along it to take in some amazing scenery.

Another landmark that has an instant impact is the Scott Monument, built in memory of Sir Walter Scott – the gothic spire towers over the city centre and scaling its narrow staircase is well worth the time.

Famous faces

Two of Scotland’s best ever players, Gavin and Scott Hastings, hail from Edinburgh and grew up there playing for George Watson’s College before taking on the world as British & Irish Lions.

Huw Jones has honed his rugby skills in South Africa and will start the season as a Glasgow Warrior.

But the globetrotting Scotland centre was born in Edinburgh and lived there until he was two, then moving to England and playing in the same Millfield College team as Jonathan Joseph and Mako Vunipola.

Ex-Crusaders and current Bath coach Todd Blackadder knows his way around Scotland’s capital – the New Zealander played for Edinburgh between 2001 and 2004 before becoming the forwards coach under Frank Hadden.

Team

Edinburgh Rugby is one of the oldest rugby teams in the world, with the original Edinburgh District team playing the first ever inter-district match against Glasgow District in 1872, winning the match 3-0.

The team have come close to major honours in recent years, in 2015 reaching the Challenge Cup final but losing out to Gloucester, and in 2012 reaching the European Cup semi-finals.

Old rivals Glasgow are in a period of transition at the moment and Edinburgh will no doubt look to capitalise on that this year.

Richard Cockerill has taken the reins at the club after winning several major honours with Leicester Tigers, and a couple of new centres – Mark Bennett, captured from Glasgow, and Robbie Fruean, will surely make up a midfield no side will want to face.

Stadium

Edinburgh switched their home ground to Myreside Stadium in January and with the switch proving successful that arrangement will continue for the next three years.

The capacity for the upcoming Guinness Pro14 season will be approximately 6000 with facilities being upgraded throughout the season to meet demand.

Prior to the move Edinburgh played at BT Murrayfield, but with a smaller crowd than the stadium’s capacity the atmosphere sometimes lacked, and the move to Myreside will no doubt create a passionate environment to play in with some games, including the 1872 Cup, still to be staged at the bigger BT Murrayfield.