Oh to live in Twickenham, now that the World Cup is coming

Local estate agents no doubt market the south-west London suburb of Twickenham as a desirable (and expensive!) place to live. It’s a fair bet that they do not dwell on the downside from the presence of the local national rugby stadium.

It could be every resident’s nightmare: inebriated rugby fans vomiting or urinating on the streets or into your front garden after the match. Yet this is what lies in store for Twickenham residents when the Rugby World Cup gets underway in a month’s time, with 10 of the 48 matches taking place in TW1.
Richmond council had a stab at sorting out the problem when England beat France in a warmup match on August 15. Pubs were effectively encouraged to close early, at 10pm, but the decision pleased neither publicans nor long-suffering residents who already have to put up with road diversions and rubbish-strewn streets on match days.

Now imagine you wanted to create the nation’s biggest traffic jam – apart from the M25 in rush hour. First of all you would pick a Friday evening in London during term-time and then shut one of the main arterial routes out of the capital. Say by shutting the main A316 dual carriageway linking central London with the M3 and M25 from 5pm to midnight. Then you would schedule a globally significant sporting fixture to be played in that same postcode. Then you would sit back and await the inevitable transport carnage.
So when it was announced that England would kick-off the tournament at 8pm on a Friday night at Twickenham it was not only the already put-upon local residents who took a deep breath.
If there is gridlock from south-west London to the M25 and beyond, any feel good factor surrounding rugby union’s showpiece event will soon evaporate. It could be a few long nights for anyone idly driving up to town for a quiet meal.

And if transport and ill-mannered fans weren’t posing enough problems, the home of English rugby is apparently encased in a “stinking cloud” from a nearly sewage works-prompting locals to rename Twickenham Stadium as “Stinkehham.”The sewage plant is just 0.3 miles from the stadium, and there were reports during the England-France game of a “bit of a whiff”

So the moral for anyone with a ticket for a game at Twickenham must be leave very early for the stadium and hold your nose-and hope the rugby makes it all worth it……

Mike Miles

http://www.scrumdown.org.uk

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Will Europe suffer World Cup hangover?

Amongst all the coverage of the forthcoming World Cup it would have been easy to miss the announcement last week of the fixtures for next season’s Champions Cup and Challenge Cup.
Because of the World Cup the competition doesn’t start until mid-November, but there are some exciting matches in prospect. There is the inevitable “Group of Death”, Pool 5, involving a previous Heineken Cup winning quartet of Leinster, Wasps, Toulon and Bath.

But there must be a question mark over how big the World Cup hangover will be, and which of the European Champions Cup contenders will be hit hardest. The answer to this will play a huge part in determining which of Toulon’s rivals will stand the best chance of prising their hands off the trophy.
Saracens are easily the Premiership’s leading lights after reaching a final and two semi-finals in the last three years. They start their hoped-for route to Lyon with a tie against fading French giants Toulouse at Allianz Park.

Their rugby director Mark McCall reflected on the competition. “ The different slant to this season is that the World Cup final will be played two weeks before the first game, and we don’t know who will be in the final – but if England were to get into the final we don’t know how our players will be coming back into the club with Toulouse just two weeks away.”

The reality is that if England, France, Ireland, Wales or Scotland reach the World Cup last four, or even the quarter finals, the sizeable international contingents of clubs like Saracens, Bath, Toulouse and Leinster could be severely compromised. Injuries, fatigue, as well as factors like loss of form all come into the post-World Cup equation.

It suggests that clubs with strong squads which are not heavily hit by international calls could thrive in the coming campaign, because, ironically, the revised format introduced a year ago, means any side that does not hit the ground running puts its quarter-final prospects in danger.

Mike Miles

http://www.scrumdown.org.uk