The atmosphere, the crowds and the battle – Ireland vs England at Twickenham was something special
An elite and illustrious WhatsApp group, of which we are a member, has nine key global influencers interested in rugby.
The interest of the caps ranges from completely down to quite interested. It will all create some sort of plan for every Ireland Test match. Those plans will range from traveling to work, or assisting, to squaring a high chair and running clear in front and back.
Now with only a few sleeps to go before heading back to the water, in what feels like an era, we poll the group to see how many people have sampled the Twickenham experience first-hand. If you’re a football fan and you haven’t made the trip yet, we recommend putting it on the bucket list.
In our small group, five had never been to the tree-lined area of south-west London. Two others only remember going there once, in 1986: for a weekend to watch Ireland in the Championship on Saturday and then scheduled to play a club game against London Ireland in Sunbury on tomorrow.
Having gone through on a Friday night, the quality of that Sunday’s game has always suffered, so they were happy that Sunbury was frozen.
Of course, Twickenham already has hot air blowers ready and the big game will go on. With controversial picks in the group – Paul Kennedy for Phil Orr and Brian McCall ahead of Willie Anderson – there was a huge focus on the Irish controversy. It reversed at an all-day pace, much to the delight of Orr and Anderson as well as England number eight Dean Richards, who had tried twice himself and was the pilot who landed a penalty spot.
Among others in our WhatsApp band, one sat high in the south grandstand on St George’s Day in 2011 when Bath beat the Wasps on a hectic April afternoon. We wrapped up the weekend as part of the Irish minis rugby festival in London, one of the really great events on the rugby calendar in these islands and a credit to the club there.
We find it hard to believe that none of the others were there when Twickenham was at its best. One person almost did it 4 years ago because of a last minute ticket. To add to the pain, it was Ireland’s Grand Slam match on St Patrick’s Day.
There was one method for Ireland to open up to their opponents that afternoon, a bit out of step with what we associate with being inseparable from the good Twickenham days: the raging passion of the men in their clothes. Blue shirt overwhelms the home team.
“I don’t want to be general but a lot of Celtic nations tend to be more down on sentiment than we are,” England supporter Joe Marler said this week.
Marler was on the bench that day. It was the height of the Joe Schmidt era. Draw a line from there through the winning tour to Australia and then the November defeat to the Blacks, that’s the top of the mountain, from where we can see another mountain in Japan a year later.
Schmidt’s method is an interesting combination of brutality and precision that the players need a sober head. The three attempts in the first half were a combination: Garry Ringrose utilized shrapnel from a perfectly delivered Johnny Sexton bomb; an off-device clinical incision for scoring by CJ Stander; and then the blunt edge ended with the skill of one young man, Jacob Stockdale, hitting a record seventh in the Six Nations campaign.
Has 10 dribbles and chases to score in his corners. That was the beginning and end of the first half. They may have dropped out midway and had a 14-5 lead as a payoff to success, but they’d still carry on to the day of bigger paychecks. By that stage, the Twickenham crowd had grown tired of Ireland with its protracted streak of possession. On such a cold day, it was a jarring thing.
Calming the crowds in Paris is seen as key to success in France, but it also works quite well in Twickenham. The difference in mood there between England in full flow and England in reverse is a home mile.
The sheer scale of the place, with everyone falling in love with the hilarious tunes about Mrs. Windsor, is something of an absolute hit. It’s not Cardiff – a truly unique experience on the anthem circuit – but it’s big and loud and you can see why Marler makes a point about the Celtic nations not cornering the market on faith. passion. It would be impossible not to get excited if it was your team.
In the moments between the band on leave and the referee taking over, you feel honored to have a seat on the sidelines.
But it’s not always smooth sailing. At the 2015 World Cup, the atmosphere in Twickenham soured as England beat Wales. By the time they lost to the Wallabies, it was poison. A lot of people want to get out of there as quickly as possible, but sadly there is no convenient exit from that stadium on any given day, where local vehicles are chewing gum and ropes. Try to tie a large package.
So book your trip and take your time. Get there early. Relax, enjoy the atmosphere and experience, and hope that the carriage doesn’t turbo charge and Ireland isn’t in the trenches.
https://www.independent.ie/sport/rugby/six-nations/the-atmosphere-the-crowd-and-the-battle-ireland-vs-england-at-twickenham-is-something-special-41427861.html The atmosphere, the crowds and the battle – Ireland vs England at Twickenham was something special