Scottish piper and rugby fan Matthew Strachan who’s trying to get the ban on bagpipes at Rugby World Cup games overturned has got some high level support – his own sports minister and Invercargill mayor Tim Shadbolt.
Scottish sports Minister Shona Robison has written to Rugby World Cup organisers asking them to overturn the ban on bagpipes at matches.
The move follows a complaint from Scotland fan and piper Matthew Strachan, 32, who has also written to John Key, the prime minister of New Zealand.
Mr Strachan, a GP from Aboyne, Aberdeenshire, said: “After spending considerable money getting to New Zealand to support my country, I was shocked to hear bagpipes were not allowed in the stadiums.
“I’ve played the pipes in most of the UK stadiums and also in France during the last World Cup and they have always been gratefully received. Why then after many sporting years have the World Cup organisers decided against having them in stadiums?”
He added: “At least pipers should be allowed to play up to the start of the game and afterwards. What is a touring piper supposed to do with his pipes when refused entry to a stadium? I would not have bought as many tickets to other games had I known, because as a piper, rugby games to me have always included my pipes.”
Tim Shadbolt is also supporting the piper:
Invercargill is the official host city for the Scotland Rugby Team.
Shadbolt attended both games involving Scotland at Rugby Park Stadium and says pipe bands playing outside the gates added to the atmosphere.
He says he also heard bagpipes playing during the game and people spontaneously started singing Scotland’s national anthem. . .
Rugby World Cup spokesman Mike Jaspers said earlier in the week that there was no specific ban on bagpipes, but a range of musical items, such as drums and vuvuzelas, are not allowed in because they can interfere with others’ enjoyment of the game.
He was not aware of anyone bearing bagpipes being refused entry to any grounds, nor of the Scottish minister’s request.
RWC organisers are no doubt concerned that everyone is able to enjoy the games without disruption and that letting one man and his pipes in to a stadium sets a precedent for other people and their instruments.
Blame the bias from my tartan genes if you will, but I think there is a special case for the piper. Bagpipes are at least as significant to the Scots as the haka is to New Zealand.
Providing the piper undertakes to restrict his piping to before and after the game and in appropriate breaks it would enhance the match experience not detract from it.
I[‘m not alone in that view – the Facebook site supporting the campaign has 1002 members .
In other RWC news: Italy scored a bonus point with a 53-17 win against Russia last night.
This evening Tonga meets Japan in Whangarei.