1872 Cup To Be Less Festive

The Guinness PRO12 fixtures are out, and it’s fair to say there are a few changes to the structure of the season based on what we are used to. Whether the (very) recent survey that was doing the rounds had anything to do with it or not is debatable, but it may have been some way of the PRO12 seeking retroactive permission from fans for the changes even as they were rubber-stamping them.

For the forthcoming 2016/17 season, the PRO12 have designated six ‘Big Weekends’ (nothing to do with Radio 1) across the season that will include what they describe as the league’s “signature” match-ups, such as the 1872 Cup Scottish derby, Leinster versus Munster at the Aviva Stadium, the Italian derby and the double header Judgement Day spectacular between the Welsh Regions at the Millenium.

With the first occurring in Week 6, one of those slots also happens on the last weekend of the regular season, and although there are two back to back “big weekends” over the festive period, the previously back to back 1872 Cup matches between Edinburgh and Glasgow have instead been separated by several months rather than occupying both of those slots as previously. Possibly in the process allowing one side to stomp all over the other’s playoff chances.

Many will mourn this split, but for those outside of the native catchment areas (ie the Borders and the North), a chance to see an 1872 Cup match when weather is better and public transport is fully running will be welcome, even if this year it is at the regularly sold out Scotstoun.

In an effort to standardise kickoff times, the majority of Friday night matches will be started at the regular time of 1935 and there are now very few Sunday games (only one involving Edinburgh so far in the first round of definite dates). Most of the remainder are sprinkled across Saturdays, which might at least make teatimes interesting if you’re not a fan of talent shows.

You can find the full season fixture list here, with team-specific Edinburgh 2016/17 fixtures here and Glasgow 2016/17 fixtures here.

7 comments on “1872 Cup To Be Less Festive

  1. FF on

    Seems to me to undermine a lot of the good marketing work the SRU have done in making the 1872 a big event. Will people find it as attractive if there isn’t a trophy on offer over back to back matches? Will it always be at Murrayfield on Boxing Day? The attendance benefits from many people returning home for the holidays. I can see the advantages for the league of ensuring sold out matches across the league on the final day of the season, but 4 out of the 6 Big Weekends are not going to be big in any way for the Scottish and Italian teams so it seems harsh to axe a special event that the SRU had made a big success of.

    • Rory Baldwin on

      I think they are trying to capitalise on Scottish – Italian proximity in the world rankings/at the bottom of the 6N table to build up our matches with the 2 Italian teams as some sort of plausible rivalry while the other two countries have more inter-regional derbies to go around.

  2. ade on

    I saw the blurb about the “special rivalry between the Scottish and Italian clubs”. Special rivalry? Maybe they’re referring to Scots-Italians opening up ice cream shops in Glasgow?

    To be fair to the Pro12, they are stuck between a rock and a hard place. The 1872 back to back games were a great draw at a time of year when people don’t want to be travelling too far, and also the proximity of the fixtures gave it a bit of an edge as it was like having an extended half time with extra Christmas pudding.

    However, the league has to try and push all 12 teams, and I think what they have done with the Big Weekends is recognise that they have 2 countries with 4 teams each, and therefore the level of exposure across the board will be higher by building the hype around the inter-district fixtures (If I can use that term for the Irish/Welsh sides).

    In an ideal world you would have 4 Scots teams, and 4 Italians so that everyone was getting the same opportunities, but we have what we have. One aspect of the Big Weekends is do they clash with any Test weekends? If not then this is a good move, as hopefully it will mean more top players being involved, thereby improving the spectacle for the fans.

    I think it will be interesting to see how the second 1872 leg goes though on that last weekend as well. Could this be the year that both Scottish clubs will be in the mix for at least top 6 finished? Even better if it were to be top 4, but we’ll see how that pans out. A packed, rocking Scotstoun on a sunny May day with lots to play for could be hugely beneficial to Scottish rugby overall – players have to learn to deal with pressure situations to become better decision makers. The historical back to back games created pressure for sure, but only really within the constraints of the 1872 Cup as there was still a long way to go in the season – see Glasgow for proof of that this year. This revised fixture could create a wonderful pressure cooker environment for Scottish players, which is no bad thing.

    Last point – as an exile living in the Midlands I don’t get to see many games. My two boys have been at me for a trip to Scotstoun and I have said we’ll try to fit one in this coming season. Doesn’t look likely seeing all these Friday fixtures though :( We’ll just have to settle for a short trip to Welford Road to watch the European game vs Leicester!

  3. MikeLinds on

    Interesting piece on Planet Rugby about the IRFU and their funding struggles given the spending power in France and England. Interested to hear how folks think Pro 12 can be changed / improved to not be left too far behind.

    • ade on

      How do any of the NH unions outside England and France expect to compete when it comes to money? You only need to look at football to see what will happen – power will be concentrated in those leagues which have the larger populations which gives broadcasters something to aim at. The combined population of Scotland/Ireland/Wales is in the region of 13m. England homes upwards of 53m souls, France somewhere north of 66m. OK, Italy has a population of around 68m, but rugby as a sport has nowhere near the same hold on the public as in the UK and France.

      Unfortunately rugby does not command the same cultural foothold as football across Europe, or the world for that matter. Concentrating power in certain leagues might work vary well for the owners of clubs such as Toulon, Bath, Wasps, Toulouse, but it does nothing to grow the game at grassroots.

      Ever watched a football Champions League campaign and been utterly bored by the permanent cast of Man U, Barcelona, Chelsea, Inter Milan playing out endless repeats of last years semi final etc? Rugby could very quickly find itself in the same position.

      The Welsh are rugbys’ tarts, always willing to flash their knickers to anyone with cash, and failing that, anyone English. They aren’t going to change the habits of a lifetime to look out for the other clubs in the Pro 12. The Irish probably thought that they could weather the storm with the HC based in Dublin, but that has been dashed by the changes to the European structure. Scotland and Italy have got to work hell of a hard just to keep up never mind do anything as exciting as win a major trophy outwith the Pro 12.

      Hard times ahead I fear.

      • FF on

        Yes, there’s no way we can compete financially. We need to concentrate on our development systems and grass roots and we can compete at test level (like Argentina). Our pro-teams might remain European also rans but so long as they are packed with young Scottish talent the pro-12 will be a good product and attract fans. If we become a great exporter of rugby talent so be it, providing we survive as a top tier test nation rugby can still thrive in Scotland. I think we’ve started to get our house in order and the money sloshing around England and France doesn’t risk the structural fundamentals as any progress we’ve made hasn’t been built on European competitiveness.

  4. MikeLinds on

    I agree in general. However, I think Pro 12 is a little stale and wants a shake up. ‘Rivalry between Scottish and Italian Clubs’ is not the way forward.

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