Rugby skills for getting to and from Twickenham
The first-time trips to sporting venues continue for SFJ, with a pilgrimage to Twickenham – home of the England rugby team.
Situated in south-west London, the stadium was built in 1910. The Twickenham area as a whole becomes massively busy when England are in action. If you’re a local and want use of your car during event day, best of luck.
So I took my place to see a Rugby World Cup 2019 warm-up win over Wales. And an odd thing I learnt from the day was this – there are plenty of chances to practice your rugby skills pre- and post-match.
Rolling maul – getting onto the train at Clapham Junction
For newbies like me this was an eye-opener. I had to change at Clapham Junction for a Twickenham train. It’s here where you first realise just how many other people had the same idea as you.
The sheer volume of people going to the game (80,000) means an actual on-time train is rare. Getting on any service is another challenge altogether. Note: this may be an understatement.
When my chosen train arrived, I was standing slightly past where the door was – damn it. But rest assured, so were hundreds of other fans.
Without any rallying call from me, I found myself part of a wave gradually (rigorously) being carried onto the train. Twickenham likes a CarryMeHome hashtag for its rugby and this is the first example. All it needs is the crowd to cry: HEAVE and the rolling maul experience would be complete.
As with the match itself, both English and Welsh fans are lumped in together on the trains. But what’s helpful is the good natured approach, as much as is possible when a bunch of strangers are barrelling their way into your back that is.
Sidesteps galore at Twickenham
Us Brits like to form an orderly queue. And there are plenty of food and drink lines to take up your position. Try to imagine the server is the No2 and visualise them launching that pulled pork baguette towards you.
Set-up scrum at Twickenham rail station
Much like the earlier rolling maul scenario, this can be saved for the journey home. From my experience of being corralled into Twickenham station, you would go no slower by all getting into a scrum. It’d certainly make the wait more entertaining.
Ball-carrying and passing
Whoever installed the downward spiral walkway as you leave Twickenham Stadium is a genius. A cruel genius.
Asking thousands of inebriated fans to exit down a never-ending winding route is a clear masterstroke. Forget that it’s obviously fraught with the risk of colliding with others. I did see an old guy actually go on the outside and pass a ball backwards to a fellow fan. Hell, after 10 pints most men can imagine they’re Billy Vunipola.
Big drinkers will already be highly-trained at the offload. Carry as many drinks as allowed through a packed crowd before carefully offloading them to your team-mates. In a rugby match you can often combine a sidestep with an offload. It’s no different for fans. I’ve watched many giant, adept men throw a few sidesteps and offload a full pint over the years. These are skilful people!