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6 Nations 2016: Know your venues

6 Nations 2016

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

With the RBS 6 Nations well underway, here’s everything you need to know about the venues - from where to park your car to where you should go for a pint to watch the match and soak up the atmosphere. Because not everyone is lucky enough to have tickets now, are they?

 

England - Twickenham Stadium, London

Background:

With a capacity of 82,500, Twickenham - some ten miles southwest of the city centre - is the largest dedicated rugby venue in the world. It’s also home to the World Rugby Museum, which tells the story of the beautiful brutal game through a series of tours and exhibitions.

Tell me something I didn’t know:

Work began on building Twickenham Stadium’s stands in 1908. Before that the land was a ten-acre vegetable plot - giving rise to Twickenham’s affectionate nickname: The Cabbage Patch.

Fixtures:

Saturday 22nd February:
England v Ireland

Saturday 12th March:
England v Wales

Getting there:

Twickenham is six miles from Heathrow, 20 miles from London City Airport and 30 miles from Gatwick. The nearest train station is Twickenham, just a ten-minute walk from the stadium. London Overground and District Line Underground trains stop at Richmond Station. From here you can catch an RFU shuttle bus service to the stadium, before and after events. By car, exit the M25 at J12 onto the M3. This becomes the A316 and Twickenham Stadium is off the Whitton Road roundabout next to the Lexus/Toyota car dealership.

Where to park:

A limited number of parking spaces are available within the grounds of the stadium. You can pre-book your parking to reserve a space on the RFU eTicketing website. There is a 50% concession for blue badge holders. Beyond the stadium, the surrounding roads are for resident permit holders only. There is an off-site car park at Rosebine Avenue, next to the Twickenham Stoop (Harlequins RFC) on the A316 (Chertsey Road). From here it’s just a ten-minute stroll to the stadium.

Where to get a pint:

For those wishing to soak up some serious match day ambience, you won’t beat Eel Pie or Cabbage Patch, the latter of which claims to be the most famous rugby pub in the world. Both are within walking distance of the stadium and offer a pleasingly rowdy atmosphere. For something more subdued, head for Roxy Bar & Screen in Tower Bridge. It has a gigantic screen and is renowned for its hospitable, relaxed coverage.


France – Stade de France, Paris

Background:

Those expecting to be gazing at famous landmarks such as the Eiffel Tower and the Champs-Élysées as they schlep to the stadium are in for a shock. Stade de France is a fair way out of the centre, tucked away in the northern suburb of Saint-Denis. That doesn’t make this magnificent 81,338 capacity stadium any less enjoyable once you’re there.

Tell me something I didn’t know:

Stade de France was purpose built for the France 98 World Cup and is the only stadium in the world to have hosted a World Cup final for both rugby and football.

Fixtures:

Saturday 6th February:
France v Italy

Saturday 13th February:
France v Ireland

Saturday 19th March:
France v England

Getting there:

Paris is well-connected via the Réseau Express Régional (RER), which is very much like the London Underground. The stops you need are La Plaine Stade de France station on Line B or Stade de France – St Denis Station on Line D. Trains leave every five minutes or so from Gare du Nord and 9 mins from Châtelet. By car, take the N°2 exit from the A1 motorway or the N°9 exit from the A86 motorway.

Where to park:

Parking must be purchased in advance of game-day. You can do so on the Stade de France website here.

Where to get a pint:

Being out in the suburbs means you may have to look a little harder to find your ideal pub to take in the match. Au Metro’s surfeit of screens means you won’t miss a tackle. It’s also popular with the locals, which is great if you’re looking for authenticity. Find it on 66 rue Raymond Losserand. For something a little more tourist-friendly, Great Canadian is well worth a try. (Ahem, sorry.) It’s on Quai des Grands Augustins.


Ireland – Aviva Stadium, Dublin

Background:

Built on the former site of Ireland’s legendary rugby stadium Lansdowne Road, what the Aviva Stadium lacks in size it more than makes up for in character. Expect a raucous home crowd in this 57,100 seater stadium – opened in 2010.

Tell me something I didn’t know:

The distinctive dip in the northern stand is due to its proximity to local housing.

Fixtures:

Sunday 7th February:
Ireland v Wales

Saturday 12th March:
Ireland v Italy

Saturday 19th March:
Ireland v Scotland

Getting there:

The DART (Dublin Area Rapid Transit) is an electric rail system that makes doing Dublin a doddle. The line runs under the west stand of the stadium and stops at Lansdowne Road Station. From the city centre, take the southbound line from Pearse Station, Tara St Station or Connolly Station. Alternatively, if you don’t mind stretching your legs, enjoy the one-mile walk from the city centre while taking in Dublin’s sights and sounds.

Where to park:

Thinking of driving? No dice. There are no parking facilities on match days, although a limited amount of accessible parking is available. Contact the stadium for more details.

Where to get a pint:

This being Dublin, you’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to finding a decent spot to watch the game. Within a stone’s throw of the stadium are The Bath and The Bridge 1859 – the latter of which is owned by Irish rugby players Sean O’Brien, Jamie Heaslip, and brothers Rob and Dave Kearney. For something – ever so slightly – less hectic, head for the large HD projectors of Bull & Castle on Lord Edward Street or The Back Page in Phibsboro. Both have an exceptional bar menu (think gourmet burgers and wood-fired pizzas.)
Italy – Stadio Olimpico, Rome

Background:

With 70,600 seats and a history stretching back to 1928, the Stadio Olimpico is a big stadium with a big character. The running track that surrounds the pitch means fans are slightly further from the action, though for sports nuts of a certain vintage it will rekindle memories of the 1960 Olympics in Rome. This is the temporary home of Italian rugby while Stadio Flaminio gets a long-awaited face lift.

Tell me something I didn’t know:

Stadio Olimpico is also the home of the Italian capital’s two major football teams – AS Roma and SS Lazio.

Fixtures:

Sunday 14th February:
Italy v England

Saturday 27th February:
Italy v Scotland

Getting there:

From the centre of Rome, take tram number 2 from Piazzale Flaminio. Stay on the tram for around fifteen minutes until its terminus in Piazza Mancini, which is just a short walk to the stadium.

Where to get a pint:

The Highlander is just a punt away from Stadio Olimpico and promises pilgrims the finest rugby experience in Rome. Alternatively try The Fiddler’s Elbow – an Irish bar stationed in the centre of the capital that welcomes away fans.


Scotland - Murrayfield, Edinburgh

Background:

Murrayfield upholds a proud history of Scottish rugby, hosting its first international in 1925 when Scotland beat England 14-11 to win the Five Nations grandslam. There’s a running track along one side of the pitch, though the three other stands are nice and close to the action. Expect a feisty atmosphere whenever England have the audacity to turn up.

Tell me something I didn’t know:

During WWII, Murrayfield was taken over by the Royal Army Service Corps and used as a supply depot.

Fixtures:

Saturday 6th February:
Scotland v England

Sunday 13th March:
Scotland v France

Getting there:

The closest railway station to Murrayfield is Haymarket, which is a one-mile walk from the stadium. If you don’t fancy the stomp, you can catch a tram from Haymarket to Murrayfield Stadium, which will dump you right outside the stadium. Buses are frequent and many services travel close to the stadium: 12, 26, 31, 22, 30 (Lothian Buses); 12, 16, 38 (First Bus); 100 (Airlink).

Where to park:

A limited amount of on-site parking is available for ticket holders. This must be pre-booked. You can do that on the Scottish Rugby website here, or call +44 (0)844 335 3933.

Where to get a pint:

Murrayfield Bar, pretty much next door to the stadium, is second only to being inside Murrayfield itself. As you can imagine, the sheer number of punters means you can expect to wait a little longer for your pint. But if it’s atmosphere you want, you won’t beat it. For something quieter, pre-book a table at Sportsters Bar & Diner on Market Street for a cosy seat and tasty grub or head for Queens Arms or The World’s End.


Wales – Principality Stadium, Cardiff

Background:

After two solid years, 56,000 tonnes of materials and £121 million worth of building work, Principality Stadium (formerly Millennium Stadium) opened in June 1999, just in time for the Rugby World Cup. Since then it has welcomed around 1.3 million visitors per year. With a capacity of 74,500, it’s the third largest stadium in the 6 Nations, though arguably the most revered. Home fans are capable of creating a frenzied atmosphere on match days – and the effect is doubled when the retractable roof is closed.

Tell me something I didn’t know:

The 9 foot tall statue outside Gate 3 of the stadium depicts Sir Tasker Watkins, president of the Welsh Rugby Union between 1993 and 2004. He won the Victoria Cross in WWII and went on to become a distinguished lawyer and judge. Before his death in 2007 he was colloquially described as the greatest living Welshman.

Fixtures:

Saturday 13th February:
Wales v Scotland

Friday 26th February:
Wales v France

Saturday 19th March:
Wales v Italy

Getting there:

Principality Stadium is just a five-minute walk from both Cardiff Central railway station and Cardiff Central bus station. These are the best options for ticket-holders as much of the city centre is pedestrianised for big games.

Where to get a pint:

The compactness of Cardiff city centre means two things: 1) getting around on foot is easy; 2) everywhere is heaving on match days. City Arms and Old Arcade both stand in the shadow of the stadium and will promise an electric atmosphere. For big screens, food and (a small chance of) a quieter atmosphere, head to Walkabout on St Mary’s Street or, next door, The Prince of Wales – a massive Wetherspoons in an old theatre with a 20ft roll-down screen and eight televisions.
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