Words by Doireann Garrihy and Chris Jones
Ireland face their final Six Nations test of 2018 with a big St Patrick’s Day clash with England at Twickenham in West London. Twickenham is one of the largest stadiums in Europe with a whopping 82,000 seats, and while the hustle and bustle that comes with sharing a ground with 81,999 other people is enough to stress anyone out, we’ve put together a handy guide to help travelling fans.
Driving in London can be stressful, and expensive when you take the cost of parking into account, so we strongly recommend that you use public transport. Make sure you buy an Oyster card when you arrive – it’s a pre-pay card, similar to Leap in Dublin, that you can use on bus, Tube, tram, DLR, London Overground, TfL Rail and most National Rail services in London.
Download the Citymapper app too. This is a godsend – you input your destination and it gives you the best way to get there using all the available public transport options.
There are regular trains to Twickenham Station from London Waterloo, Clapham Junction, Reading, Ascot and Windsor & Eton Riverside. It’s just a short walk from the train station to the stadium. The Trainline is a handy site for checking schedules and booking tickets with all of the different train companies.
When you come out of the station, turn right and then continue down Whitton Rd. You can also get a train to Whitton, St Margaret’s or Hounslow stations, which are also in the vicinity of the stadium.
The nearest Tube (or Underground) stations to Twickenham are Hounslow East on the Piccadilly Line, and Richmond on the District Line. There is then a shuttle bus between Richmond station and the stadium, before and after the games.
The London Overground also runs from Richmond to North London and Stratford.
London Bus also run regular services which pass close to the stadium: 281, 267, 481, 681 and H20. You could also take the R68, R70, 33, 110, 290, H22 or 490 to Twickenham town centre and then walk to the stadium, which takes about 10 to 15 minutes.
Photo by David Iliff, used under CC-BY-SA 3.0 licence
If you do decide to take the car, remember to book your parking in advance. Demand for parking will be exceptionally high so if you haven’t already booked, do so now. Car parking can be booked through the RFU eTicketing website.
There is also an off-site car park called Rosebine Ave next to Twickenham Stoop (Harlequins RFC’s stadium) on the A316 (Chertsey Rd). This is about 10 minutes’ walk from the stadium and is also easy to get to if you’re coming from both the M3 and M25.
As the stadium is located in a residential area, on-street parking is mostly reserved for residents. Any unauthorised vehicles will be towed away – the last thing you want after a day at the rugby. JustPark offer spaces in the local area so do check them out.
If you’re looking for a stress-free trip then it might be a good idea to use one of the many Park & Ride options. You can park at Kempton Park, which has 3,000 spaces, then take the dedicated rail/bus shuttle to the stadium. You can also park at the Hounslow Civic Centre, where there are 500 car parking spaces and a dedicated bus shuttle.
For that extra peace of mind, make sure you have breakdown cover. For more information on European Breakdown cover, see our website. If you do break down in the UK, you can call the AA on 0800-88-77-66.
If you are planning to hire a car in England, don’t forget that AA customers get to up to 10% off and can add an additional driver for free with Enterprise, Alamo and National Car Rental, our AA Rewards partners. To find out more and book click here.
Photo by Roger Blackwell, used under CC BY 2.0 licence
If you’re in London looking to watch the game but didn’t manage to nab a ticket, there are a number of pubs in the area that offer a lively match-day atmosphere:
Named after the man who invented rugby, The William Webb Ellis is on London Rd, a 15-minute walk from the stadium. As the name suggests, it has a strong rugby theme and plenty of big screens and comfy armchairs. It’s also part of the Wetherspoons chain so it is relatively easy on the wallet – no bad thing in this part of London.
A little closer to the ground, there’s The Cabbage Patch. One of the first pubs you’ll see if you’re coming out of Twickenham train station, it’s a large pub which gets very busy when there’s a match on so long queues are likely. There’s usually plenty of banter between the fans and lots of big screens to watch the matches on too.
If you’re heading to the ground from Hounslow station then check out The Duke Of Cambridge on Kneller Rd. It’s the closest pub to the stadium and has plenty of real ale on tap, a special match-day menu, four screens showing all the matches and a large covered outdoor area.
Finally, The Scrummery on Whitton Rd is barely a drop-kick from the grounda. It’s a classy café/bar, and while you can’t watch the match here, it rates highly for its food, hospitality and atmosphere.
While you won’t need too much of our help to find London’s most famous sights, there are plenty of attractions worth visiting in the vicinity of Twickenham.
First and most obvious is a stadium tour – especially if you have younger fans in tow. Twickenham is the world’s largest dedicated rugby ground, and the tour takes in the royal box, players’ tunnel, amazing views from the top of the stand and a pitchside walk. You also get to visit the England dressing room. See here for opening dates and times, and to book in advance. Take note though that tours are not available on match weekends, so this is only an option for those staying for longer.
If flowers are your thing, then the spectacular Kew Gardens (pictured above) should be high on your list. Just a couple of miles from Twickenham, the UNESCO World Heritage Site hosts the “largest and most diverse botanical and mycological collections in the world”. Click here to plan your visit.
Meanwhile, nearby Richmond Park may not be as famous as the more central Hyde Park or Regent’s Park, but it is the largest of London’s Royal Parks. Its 955 hectares are an oasis in the big city, protected as a nature reserve and site of Special Scientific Interest and famed for its wildlife (including over 600 deer, as seen in this viral video featuring Fenton the dog). It also boasts many ponds and streams and a wide array of historical buildings. The perfect place to unwind.
Finally, if it’s entertainment you’re after then have a look at what Richmond Theatre has to offer. An authentic Victorian theatre just across the Thames from Twickenham, it has a busy schedule of concerts, plays, dance and more.
Heading to watch the rugby in Paris? Check out our essential guide here.
All photos public domain unless otherwise stated.