Ibrox Stadium – the home of Rangers Football Club – has been transformed into a rugby ground for Scotland’s biggest-ever sporting and cultural festival.
The temporary new-look for the football stadium during the Commonwealth Games has seen the pitch lengthened by 15 metres, the walls at each end raised and fitted with padding to protect players and the goal posts replaced with…. rugby posts.
Adam Running, 6, and Sandy Heather, 5, from Cartha Kids - part of Cartha Queen’s Park Rugby Club based in Pollok Park in Glasgow - kicked the first rugby balls through the posts with a little bit of expert coaching from Colin Gregor, captain of the Scotland Rugby Sevens Team.
Colin Gregor, captain of the Scotland Rugby Sevens Team, said:
“This is the one and only time the crowd will get to see rugby posts at Ibrox so the team are really excited about opening the competition here. There’s going to be an amazing noise when we run out to the ground on Saturday. The stands are right up close to the pitch which will add a brilliant buzz to the Games.”
Work to extend the pitch, carried out by Glasgow 2014 in collaboration with Rangers Football Club and local contractors, involved raising the surface of areas at both ends of the park by 600mm by covering the existing track with membrane and new boards and then infilling with sand. The new turf was laid on top.
The rugby posts were then put in place, completing the transformation ahead of the stadium hosting the Rugby Sevens competition on Saturday July 26, and Sunday July 27. Before the posts could go up, the existing undersoil heating had to be cut and re-routed and the pitch dug up to accommodate the 2 cubic meters of concrete for each post.
Greg Warnecke, Glasgow 2014 Head of Sport, said:
“This marks another exciting milestone in our journey to the Games with the completion of this temporary transformation of Ibrox Stadium.
“Ibrox is one of the most iconic stadiums in the UK and it will be a spectacular setting for all the action and excitement of the Rugby Sevens. We have been working closely with Rangers Football Club to ensure this project has been completed for the Games and I would like to thank them for all their support.”
A total of 45 matches will be contested across the two days of fierce competition in a fast, furious and dynamic contest with high point-scoring, hard hits and heroic sprints.
With over 46,000 tickets for each session, around 185,000 spectators will watch the action at the new-look Ibrox over the two days. Rugby Sevens is famous for its festival atmosphere and there will be a special party stand with 3,200 seats where spectators are encouraged to come in fancy dress. There are still some tickets available in particular for the Saturday night session.
Once the Games are over, the rugby posts will be removed, the goals replaced and the pitch and spectator areas returned to their original size, ready for Rangers first match of the new season.
Reigning champions New Zealand, who have won all four Commonwealth Gold medals to date, will face Canada in the opening match of the competition on Saturday July 26 while Delhi finalists Australia take on Sri Lanka.
Home nations Scotland, England and Wales kick off their campaigns later in the morning session against New Zealand, Sri Lanka and Malaysia respectively.
The 16 teams who will strive for the coveted Gold medal in front of packed audiences at Ibrox Stadium are: Australia, Barbados, Canada, Cook Islands, England, Kenya, Malaysia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Scotland, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Trinidad and Tobago, Uganda and Wales.