Interesting Twickenham Stadium facts
1. It’s dedicated to the sport of rugby
Back in the 19th century, the game of football started gaining traction but there were some problems. One group of players enjoyed the game commonly known as football or soccer, the other group enjoyed the game known today as Rugby.
It’s here that the separation was made between the two sports and the game originally known as “Rugger” became the “Rugby Union.” The game that is officially known as “Association Football,” later abbreviated to “Asoccer,” became football or soccer in some countries due to a variation of Rugby becoming more popular
Twickenham Stadium is an arena in the southwest of London that in terms of sports is solely dedicated to the Rugby Union!
2. Twickenham Stadium has a fitting nickname
The stadium is located in England so it hosts test matches of the England national rugby union team. Therefore, it’s often referred to in the media as “The Home of England Rugby.”
3. The RFU has its headquarters at the stadium
The stadium is owned by the governing body of rugby union in England referred to as the “RFU,” short of “Rugby Football Union.” This organization was founded in the year 1871 and used to be the international governing body of the sport until “World Rugby” was founded in 1886.
The RFU not just operates and manages Twickenham Stadium but also has its headquarters in the stadium as well.
4. It’s one of the biggest stadiums in Europe
Twickenham Stadium is an enormous stadium. It has a total pitch size of 125 x 70 meters (410 x 230 feet), has a total of 150 executive suites, and a seating capacity of 82,000.
This makes it the second-largest stadium by capacity in England behind Wembley Stadium and larger than the biggest club stadium, Old Trafford in Manchester. It’s the 4th largest stadium in Europe as well!
5. It’s one of the oldest stadiums as well
Back in the early 20th century, the RFU didn’t have its own stadium and used to play at other venues such as Crystal Palace. The major success of their games and the sold-out stadiums made them realize that owning their own stadium would be very benficial.
Therefore, some leading members of the governing body of the sport decided to purchase some land with a total area of 10.25 acre (4 hectares) for £5,500 in 1907 with the goal of building their own stadium.
Shortly after, the construction started and the original version of Twickenham Stadium was completed in 1909!
6. The land it’s built on had a very different purpose before
Before the RFU purchased a market garden in Twickenham it had a much different purpose as the land was used to grow cabbages. Apart from the more serious nickname as being the Home of England Rugby, it’s also jokingly referred to as the “Cabbage Patch” because of this.
The first official game at the stadium was played on October 2, 1909, and was a game between Harlequins and Richmond. The first official international game was played on January 15, 1910, and was a game between England and Wales.
During World War I, the land briefly got back to its old usage as a farm as it was used for cattle, horse and sheep grazing.
7. The stadium has a favorite song due to a wonderful moment
The England Rugby team was pretty weak in 1988. They had lost 15 of their previous 23 games and were facing a strong Irish side. To make things even worse, they were trailing with 0-3 at half-time.
Since the home crowd had only seen the English score 1 try the previous 2 years, things looked rather gloomy. But then, some sort of miracle happened and England started scoring one try after another, eventually winning the game 35-3!
A black player named Chris Oti scored a lot of tries and every time he did, a group of people started singing “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot,” an African-American spiritual song. Amazingly, by the end of the game, the entire stadium was singing the song!
One of the most fascinating Twickenham Stadium facts is that this game ensured that this song has been sung ever since whenever England plays at the stadium!
You can watch footage of the song here.
8. The original capacity of the stadium was just 20,000
Since its original construction in 1909, Twickenham stadium has seen a lot of redevelopments. The capacity of the stadium was just 20,000 for a long time after a number of new stands were constructed in its early days.
The west stand and offices of the RFU were constructed in the year 1936. The main redevelopments were completed in the 1980s and 1990s which raised the all-seating capacity to 75,000 spectators in 1995.
9. The final redevelopment was completed in 2006
In the early 2000s, the RFU was seeking to increase the capacity of the stadium even further and also included a four-star Marriott hotel with 156 rooms and 6 VIP suites with have views over the field in the plan.
By 2004, the plan was approved and the redevelopment started the following year, effectively increasing the capacity to 82,000 spectators. To make this happen, the south stand was demolished and rebuilt and the £80 million project was completed on November 5, 2006.
10. It hosts numerous important rugby games
As the biggest stadium dedicated to rugby union in the world, the stadium is also the venue for some of the biggest rugby matches in the world. Apart from being the main venue of 3 World Cups in 1991, 1999, and 2015, it also hosts:
- Test matches for the England national rugby union team.
- Middlesex Sevens matches.
- Premiership Rugby fixtures.
- Anglo-Welsh Cup matches.
- The Varsity Match between the universities of Oxford and Cambridge.
- European Rugby Champions Cup matches.
Another one of those interesting Twickenham Stadium facts is that some American Football Matches have been played at the stadium too, and not just exhibition games but matches between 2 NFL teams during the regular season!
11. Numerous famous artists have performed at Twickenham Stadium
As with many of the biggest stadiums in the world, the stadium isn’t just used for sports but also for international concerts. Some of the most famous artists in the world have performed at Twickenham Stadium such as Beyoncé, Rihanna, Eminem, U2, The Rolling Stones, Metallica, and Iron Maiden, to name just a few!
12. You can learn all about the sport at the World Rugby Museum
The World Rugby Union Museum is also located inside the stadium and offers visitors a complete overview of the history of the sport. It’s not just limited to England but covers the history of Rugby all over the world!
The museum presents the history of rugby union in an interactive display environment and has some unique items on display such as the original jersey worn by players during the first rugby union game ever in 1871!
While you’re there, you can also join a tour around Twickenham Stadium and get access to otherwise restricted areas as well!
This concludes the ultimate list of Twickenham Stadium facts, the biggest venue in the world for the sports of rugby, and one of the biggest and oldest stadiums in Europe!