PUBS and clubs in the Borders have been given the go-ahead to open early for screenings of matches in the Rugby World Cup, if licensees apply in advance.
They may bid for the early morning extensions during the New Zealand tournament which begins next Friday. All games will be covered by the ITV network.
“We realise this televised event will generate a huge amount of interest, especially in the Borders where rugby plays such a huge cultural and sporting role,” said Councillor Gavin Logan, chairman of Scottish Borders Licensing Board which agreed to the concession on Friday.
The board resolved to invite applications from on-sales premises licence holders to open early and outwith their normal core hours for most of Scotland’s qualifying pool matches as well as for the later stages of the tournament, which runs until October 23.
The extensions will not apply to Scotland’s opening pool encounter with Romania, which kicks off at 2am on September 10, but will be available for the side’s other Pool B matches:against Georgia in Invercargill on September 14, Argentina in Wellington on September 25 and England in Auckland on October 1, all of which begin at 8.30am.
The board will also accept bids for breakfast extensions for quarter-final matches which also kick off at 8.30am. If Scotland win their pool, they will play the runners-up of Pool A (New Zealand, France, Tonga, Canada and Japan) in Christchurch on October 8. If they finish runners-up they will play the winner of Pool A there on October 9.
The semi-finals on October 15 and 16 kick off at 9am, as does the final at Eden Park in Auckland on October 23.
A report from licensing services manager Anne Isles said an extended hours application could be made under the Licensing (Scotland) Act in connection with “a special event of national or local significance”.
“Live television coverage of the games will be outwith the core hours of licensed members’ clubs and other premises who may wish to open to cater for clients to view this event… which may be seen as falling into this category,” she added.
Mrs Isles recommended that the board supports “appropriately made” applications, with authority delegated to herself to grant them, subject to there being no adverse comments from the police or the board’s licensing standards officers.
Successful applicants must open no earlier than 30 minutes before the start of each game and “food of a substantial nature” must be offered during the extension period.
Licensees must make stewarding arrangements if required.