Rugby World Cup, Bagpipes Lament – Updated

(scroll down for update)

A few days ago we wrote about the draconian set of rules governing items that are not permitted into world cup stadia during matches.

Prohibited items included some rather ridiculous items such as furniture, car parts, animals (yes this is New Zealand) and most importantly musical instruments. That means no drums, trumpets, french horns … or bagpipes. Fortunately singing and having a good time are still permitted, just.

No bagpipes, how ridiculous. Enough is enough said the Scottish Minister for Sports, Shona Robison, who has written to the rugby world cup officials hoping they will see sense.

Her plea, and that of a lone piper and rugby fan, Dr. Matthew Strachan was picked up by The Scotsman newspaper:

Officials have reportedly outlawed bagpipes from stadiums amid fears they could distract Scotland’s opponents.

Now sports minister Shona Robison has written to the organisers asking them to overturn the decision.

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.” … read the full report here

For “Fears they could distract Scotland’s opponents”? one can only imagine the firestorm that would ensue if the same reasoning should ever be applied to the All Blacks’ haka.

A Facebook page has been set up to support the:

 Campaign to allow responsible bagpiping in all RWC stadiums in New Zealand.

Join it, help to bring some sense back to the world cup. Before it’s too late.

Update 21/09/2011

Matt Strachan has had a reply from the Prime Minister of New Zealand, John Key – who has passed the buck/ball:

Dear Mr Strachan
On behalf of the Prime Minister, Rt Hon John Key, I acknowledge your email of 14 September 2011 concerning the use of bagpipes at the Rugby World Cup games.
Please be assured your comments have been noted.
As the issue you have raised falls within the portfolio responsibility of the Minister for the Rugby World Cup, Hon Murray McCully, your email has been forwarded to his office for consideration and you can expect a response in due course.
Thank you for writing.
Megan Walls
Correspondence Assistant