Scot defies Kiwi Rugby World Cup bagpipe ban

Andrew Aitken was able to smuggle his pipes into the game with the help of his friends Craig White (left) and Malky Wilson (right)

A SCOT has revealed that he managed to beat the Kiwi bagpipe ban and entertain fans during Scotland’s clash with Argentina.

Officials at the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand controversially banned the bagpipes, claiming they could distract opponents.

But Andrew Aitken used cunning and the help of friends to smuggle the instrument past security at the Wellington National Stadium.

And he then entertained 27,000 fans for the duration of the game, keeping spirits up despite a crushing defeat.

Andrew, 40, from Galashiels, travelled to New Zealand to mark his landmark birthday. He took his bagpipes 11,000 miles across the planet and even learned how to play the Kiwi national anthem.

He said: “Imagine my disappointment to be told I would not be able to play at the games. I may not be the best player, but it’s a great feeling to play Flower of Scotland and have 50,000 fans sing along to raise the spirit of our boys on the pitch.

“Having practiced for weeks before we left, I had even memorised the New Zealand national anthem.”

Bad omen

Undeterred, Andrew and his friends quickly worked out a plan to beat the ban.

He said:  “You can dimantle the drones quite easily. So a couple of my mates took them and stuffed them up their jackets. When we were inside I went to a quiet part of the stadium and gathered them together.

“In the stadium, the atmosphere was building with both sets of supporters in great spirits.

“During the game I assembled the pipes and began Scotland the Brave with both sets of fans joining in and enjoying the spectacle. Even at the end a couple of security guards applauded my efforts.

“When leading 12-6 I began a rousing rendition of Flower of Scotland which turned out to be a bad omen as Argentina quickly crossed our line for the match-winning try.”

“On the way out of the ground, I piped the boys out.”

He added: “There  was always the chance we’d get caught but we decided to risk it.”


Andrew has form for causing a stir abroad with his bagpipes. In 2008, at the Beijing Olympics, his instrument was mistaken for a weapon by Chinese officials.

And he is determined to defy the ban again when Scotland take on England this weekend.

He said: “The All Blacks have the tradition of the Haka so why should we be different? Imagine the furore if the Haka was banned.”

“The World Cup officials have made a mistake and hopefully they will realise this before the English game.

“OK, we lost but Saturday is another day and who knows what will happen in Auckland.”

He added: “It’s a great instrument for getting the crowd going. I can even play God Save the Queen, so there’s no ‘them and us’ about it.”