The 1872 Cup match between Glasgow and Edinburgh – already postponed once because of Covid-19 – was called off again just 20 minutes before kick-off.
With temperatures plummeting to -5 degrees and beyond, parts of the artificial pitch at Scotstoun began to freeze. An Edinburgh warm-up scrummage session on the north side of the ground ended with players slipping and falling face-first.
The game had been originally scheduled for December 27 but was a victim of Covid infections the Warriors picked up from their European game with Exeter earlier in December.
It was then rescheduled for January 8 as both team’s fixtures with Italian teams were postponed due to pandemic travelling difficulties.
Glasgow trained on the pitch despite delays
Glasgow had trained on the pitch on Thursday, but that session had been delayed due to frost, said head coach Danny Wilson.
“On Thursday the pitch was frozen first thing in the morning so we delayed training a bit. But when the sun came out we did everything, scrummaging, fill contact,” he said.
“There were patches that were crispy but nothing like tonight.
“The pitch was fine at lunchtime and it was fine in the afternoon when I arrived at the ground around 3.30. But as the night has gone on and it has dropped to -1, -2 and below, it got to a place where the closer to kick-off the more frozen it became.”
Ground staff had made contingencies for the temperatures forecast but it was to no avail, he added.
‘Not safe to play on’
“There’s been a stack of work done on it in terms of salting and turning over,” continued Wilson. “Ultimately the boys have got to the stage of doing some scrums out there and it won’t hold a stud.
“So it’s not safe to play on – that’s the verdict, if you like. In this season, it’s one of many things that have surprised us, have been sent to try us.
“There have been plenty games played here in pretty cold conditions. Tonight is extreme. I’ve seen forecasts for -11 and that’s pretty freak weather.”
Plastic pitch ‘wouldnt take a stud’
Edinburgh started a warm-up scrummage session on one of the harder sections and abandoned it after one attempt, said head coach Richard Cockerill.
“The players went out to do their primer – their warm-up just before the main warm-up – and players were saying the far side was very hard,” he said. “It was hard to get any purchase or grip.
“The plastic grass on the top was soft, but underneath it was very hard and it wouldn’t take a stud.
“Myself and (captain) Stu McInally, with (referee) Mikey Adamson, went and had a look. The ground-staff came with us and they did some work on it.
“Once we got to the scrummaging on that far side, all the front-row players couldn’t get any grip at all just slipped straight to their faces, so it was impossible to scrummage on.”
Game won’t be played this weekend
The game will not be rescheduled for this weekend nor moved to Murrayfield’s heated pitch because of broadcast considerations, it’s understood.
“It is disappointing,” continued Cockerill. “We have two teams who want to play. But the pitch is hard and we have experienced front row forwards saying you can’t scrummage on it, so you can’t play on it.
“It’s been cold all day and it was going to get colder as the night went on. It’s an all-weather pitch so I’m not quite sure how that works.
“It has been a messy season. This is just another spanner in the works I suppose.”