Great rugby grounds of the world

Great rugby grounds of the world

Yet again Nursedude has provided the inspiration for a bit of a ramble:

“Of the rugby stadiums that you have been to in OZ and Europe, which ones do you think are the best in terms of sight-lines, and ambiance?”

Bloody good question. Here’s my personal ranking – let me know what you guys think:

1 – Stadio Flaminio, Rome. (pictured above)
I saw the Wallabies play the Ities here in November with my dad and a mate. Crap game but brilliant ground/ experience for a number of reasons:

  • It only seats about 20,000 so you’re right on top of the action (it’s by a famous architect so it’ll never get built on).
  • As no-one gives a toss about rugby in Italy, the ground is full of real fans, not corporate tossers so you can just go on line and buy a ticket at face value (impossible @ Twickers)
  • Vendors walk down the isles selling beer, you don’t even need to move (note: if you don’t want to end up asleep face down on a restaurant table later like me, you might want to ignore them)
  • You’re in Rome so the weather and food is top notch (see actual photo of pre-game steak above).
  • The teams just walked around outside the ground after with fans etc, Mortlock on his way out to get a beer and abuse the coaching staff……

2 – Stade de France, Paris
The most beautiful of the big stadia, really quite breathtaking. I’ve seen a couple of games here, including when the Wallabies again played like idiots and got thumped 27-14 in 2004. The Frogs were literally pointing at my green and gold jersey in the street and laughing afterwards (was it the Jersey, or was it me?). I haven’t forgiven Eddie Jones for that one.

3 – The SFS, Sydney
It might be the nostalgia of going home for me, but I think the SFS is great. Not too big, can get a VB and a pie, near the centre of town for pubs before and after. What more could want (apart from the Waratahs to win a few).

4 – Twickenham, London
I’ve been lucky enough to see some ding dong games here; the ’91 world cup final (Australia’s first win, in case anyone forgot) where I somehow got to talk to drunkenly talk at Bob Dwyer afterwards, the France vs New Zealand semi at RWC’99, the best game I’ve ever seen – what a crowd reaction. Even being an Aussie I have to admit that God Save the Queen sung full tilt by 80,000 pissed up poms puts the hairs up on the back of your neck.
To do Twickers properly avoid the corporate packages like the plague. Go to the Eel Pie pub in Twickenham pre game, grab an ecoli burger on the way to the ground, and then make sure you know someone with a car park party that you can crash just before the game and directly after.


@MattRowley

Matt started G&GR just before the 2007 Rugby World Cup and has been enslaved ever since. Follow him on twitter: @MattRowley

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