Twickenham isn’t just a rugby pitch it’s a battleground. The daddy of egg-chasing stadia and the undisputed home of rugby union, the proverbial brick house has a capacity of over 81,000 making it the largest dedicated rugby ground in the world. It also has a storied, brutal, century-long history with more hits and showdowns than a Bruce Willis movie script.
Easily accessible from Strand Palace Hotel, Twickers will play host to ten World Cup matches – and should it play host to you too, here are five things that make Twickenham more than just a stadium.
In the modern age many stadia are built on soulless plots of land from a bottomless pot of money. Twickenham on the other hand has humble roots. Before the ten acres was snapped up by the RFU for £5000, 12 shillings and sixpence way back in 1907 it was allotment garden churning out vegetables. Earning it the early nickname in the press of The Cabbage Patch.
The ground would return to its earthy beginnings years later during World War 1, as a pasture for livestock, and in World War 2 when one of the car parks was dug up to grow vegetables once again.
Twickenham is the church of English rugby and every holy place has a favourite hymn. There is none better than Swing Low Sweet Chariot. The goose bumps, the adrenaline – you can almost taste the victory in your mouth and that’s before the match has even kicked off. It’s also an amazing weapon, as this video of Swing Low drowning out the Haka demonstrates before England’s record breaking 38-21 win over the All Blacks in the Autumn Internationals of 2012.
Where else have brass bands walked with fans to the stands? Or flags been handed out at the train station? On match day there’s a carnival atmosphere at Twickenham rivaled by nowhere else in the world.
And to think in the early days the newspapers went to town on the ground for being out of the way. Too far from London, they said. Ironically, Twickenham’s semi-country setting plays a huge part in its appeal. It’s that local rugby town, family friendly appeal that sets the ground apart.
Twickenham memories are like belly buttons; everyone has one. What about Johnny Wilkinson’s fairytale comeback scoring 27 points against Scotland in 2007 after three years out? How about when England captain Bill Beaumont was lifted off the pitch after the 1980 Grand Slam? Perhaps Philippe Saint-André’s ridiculous try for France in 1991? Or when Australia beat England in the World Cup final in that same year… on second thoughts, let’s forget that one. Twickenham is the place where rugby dreams come true. What memories will be forged in the fires of this World Cup?
The RFU HQ isn’t just high-tech, it’s positively sci-fi. Twickenham is the first stadium in Europe to have unlimited high-density Wi-Fi so you can Tweet about your match day experience to all your weeping friends at home. There are also tellies throughout the ground showing RFU TV, and two 169-square-metre LED screens deliver a constant flow of fan interaction.
The pitch itself is also a modern marvel. In 2012 the RFU spent £1.2 million installing a new DESSO pitch with under soil heating and an irrigation system that can drain 123 millimetres per hour. The stadium also has barcode entry so you don’t have to faff around with the stewards; you’re straight in and it’s on with the game.
Explore our special Rugby World Cup 2015 hotel information section on the site. We’re excited to welcome fans from all over the globe following their respective teams, see what staying with us offers during RWC2015
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