Sunday, September 7, 2008

Lionel at Twickenham

This was one of my 'things to do' - Twickenham to watch the rugby. I had been hoping for it to be the All Blacks but a double header sounded good and it certainly proved to be.

The adventure really began when we changed trains at Clapham Junction, the busiest station in Britain, we can believe that after Amanda & Josh squeezed on to one train and Rebecca & I had to catch the next one. Fortunately for Rebecca & me the next one was a Rugby special and was virtually empty before our horde joined it. We got back together with Amanda and Josh at Twickenham Station, not before they would have watched hundreds of people go past. It was then time to flow with the tide of people down the closed streets towards the ground, the only gaps being people dodging the horse manure from the police horses. Past the scalpers, the Referees links sellers (yes you can get a radio link to the Referees microphone for five pound), stopping only to buy a programme and the obligatory bag search to enter the ground. Once in we grabbed some overpriced food and then made our way by Escalator to our middle tier seats in the South West corner of the stadium. The atmosphere of the fully enclosed stadium was grat as the London Irish supporters, complete with drums, filled our end of the stadium with sound. The view was pretty good from anywhere only interrupted by the constant flow in and out of people on a scale which I had never struck while the game was going on. It was obstructing because leg room was not great so everybody in a row had to stand up to let people in and out, which obstructed your view if you were within two to four rows of it. I'll put some of it down to the fact it was a doubleheader and supporters from all teams were mixed in together. It was something different from crowds I had been a part of in Australia and New Zealand.

To the contests - a good win for London Irish, who we expected to include former All Black and Southland Clarke Dermody (he must have an injury from preseason) over London Wasps, last season's champions 26-14. Then Harlequins (featuring Nick Evans) beating Saracens with Chris Jack 24-21. The rugby was certainly a better standard than the Air New Zealand Cup but not up to Super 14 yet but the difference is shrinking. I thought they can't have a bonus point system by the way Wasps played out the last 5 minutes but they do I discovered later. Therefore maybe its the length of the season that changes the express need to grab every point, as the competition that started today has its final in May next year.

London Irish v London Wasps at Twickenham
Crowd: 52,087