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McKie calls for team support and pledges ticket review



Scottish Rugby's Chief Executive Gordon McKie is pledging to win more supporters to rugby as part of an overall strategy to enthuse the Scottish public and bring harmony to the game.

McKie, who took up his post in August, acknowledged today that he shared the disappointment that a bigger crowd had not been attracted to Murrayfield for last weekend's Bank of Scotland Corporate Autumn Test against Argentina.

Attendance at that match was 14,491 and a similar crowd is likely currently for Sunday's Test against Samoa.

Supporters have been praised by Scotland players for the atmosphere they engendered last weekend and McKie today makes an impassioned plea to the public to come to Murrayfield and support the team.

He said: "Like many I was encouraged by the team's display last Saturday. There was significant progress from recent performances and having spoken to a number of the players I know how much it means to them to have the Scottish public behind the team.

McKie went on: "Clearly there are issues that require to be addressed with our ticketing strategy. What we have in place at present was devised in May before I joined the SRU and I believe we should honour our loyal customers who committed to the strategy.

"We cannot set about altering that strategy now because that would not be fair on our customers who have already bought tickets.

"I am convinced that much thought went into the ticketing strategy. Revenue from international matches is important in funding Scottish rugby at all levels.

"Yet, equally, we recognise the importance of taking the rugby and wider Scottish community with us and that is unequivocally our aim. We are committed to increasing our investment in the community game and a number of initiatives are under consideration.

"We recognise that the grassroots of our game needs to grow again and that is absolutely fundamental in bringing the common sense of purpose back to Scottish Rugby.

"We need to reflect on our attendances. I promise that we will review our strategy for future fixtures and we will also consider where we play our Autumn Test matches.

"Like everyone whose heart lies in rugby, I yearn to see crowds return to our game, whether at Murrayfield, with our professional teams or with the community game.

"I also know that the changes we are making are vital for the future health of our sport. We will be talking to our supporters on ticketing and other issues and will welcome their comments.

"We have made a start in some circles in improving the fortunes of Scottish Rugby and I know we face many challenges ahead. Panaceas don't occur overnight but we will look to engage with anyone who wants to see rugby in Scotland succeed."

Tickets for Sunday's Bank of Scotland Corporate Autumn Test against Samoa at Murrayfield (kick-off 3pm) are available from £20 for adults and £10 for under-18s and students. They can be bought online at www.scottishrugby.org or by phoning the ticket hotline number on 0131 346 5100.

Also, Scotland v New Zealand 26th November 2005 kick off 2.30 pm Adults from £30 U18/Students from £20.