ANDY Irvine has a long history of playing at Myreside, both as a visitor with Heriot’s for the derby against Watsonians and as part of the home team when Edinburgh turned out there in the district championship and against touring sides. It was one of his favourite grounds in his own playing days, and he is confident that the current generation of Edinburgh players will come to love it too.

As the chairman of Edinburgh Rugby, the former Scotland international might be expected to express such sentiments, but a quick look at the newly revamped ground makes it easy to see where he is coming from. The main stand is still there, as are the terracing and grass slopes on the opposite side of the pitch. Behind either goal, however, Edinburgh have built new, temporary stands as close as possible to the dead-ball lines.

The result, as we should begin to find out on Friday, when the team play the first game of a six-match trial period there, will be to have a significant percentage of the crowd right on top of the action. The atmosphere generated should be a marked improvement on the somewhat pastoral feel that Myreside had until recently, and should certainly be night and day compared to Murrayfield, where crowds of a few thousand rattled around inside a ground with a capacity of more than 67,000.

In fact, if you were looking for another venue with which to compare the principle behind Myreside, the best fit would probably be not another rugby club’s home, but the nearest big football ground. At Tynecastle, too, the crowd is right on top of the action.

The capacity at Hearts’ home is around three times greater than the 5,500 or so that will be allowed into Myreside, and the supporters there are altogether more vociferous than the demure bunch who turn up to back Edinburgh. But the idea is the same, and certainly at games with a sizeable visiting support, such as the forthcoming PRO12 fixtures against Munster and Cardiff, the claustrophobic excitement should be palpable.

The plan, as Irvine explained, is to give Edinburgh a home that teams do not like to visit. “Yeah, that’s what you want,” he said yesterday. “Firstly you want your own players to feel they have an advantage, because it is their home and the noise does make a difference.

“You want your supporters to enjoy the occasion and the atmosphere. I’m certain the atmosphere here on Friday night” – when Edinburgh take on Timisoara Saracens in the Challenge Cup – “will be electric. Then for the Munster game it will even be a level above that.

Just over 3,000 tickets have been sold so far for Friday night, but, despite the virtually complete absence of visiting supporters from Romania, the game could come close to selling out. Edinburgh will finish top of their pool with any sort of win, and given they won the away game handsomely, they should win this one with something to spare. Irvine and his colleagues might have hoped for more glamorous opponents – it was originally going to be Munster before a fixture clash forced a postponement – but, with a home quarter-final the likely prize, the match has a real significance.