Six Nations Cities: London

The Six Nations provides Europe’s best with an annual opportunity to renew rivalries and friendships in six appealing yet contrasting host cities.

The Six Nations provides Europe’s best with an annual opportunity to renew rivalries and friendships in six appealing yet contrasting host cities.

In a new series, we take a look at what makes each of them so special, find out what the main attractions are and get some top tips about away day trips on matchday.

Next, we move on to England’s capital city – London. Home to football’s national stadium in the north-west, cricket’s iconic Lord’s in the centre and the Olympic Park in the east, sport spreads to all four corners of London.

Twickenham, iconic for rugby players, supporters and coaches alike, can be found in the south-west of London. If you’re heading to a Six Nations fixture here, be sure to take in the sights and scenes around you.   Main attractions

There are enough attractions to see around the centre of London to last longer than your entire stay. The London Eye, opened on the brink of the new millennium, is an iconic way to see London from a totally different perspective. Tickets can be bought on the day, but to avoid more queues, you can book in advance.

Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament are within walking distance of the Eye and provide excellent photo opportunities. However, Big Ben is currently silent as it undergoes a major four-year renovation.

Don’t forget to take in Buckingham Palace, the British Museum or even a show in London’s legendary West End.

For the sporting nut in the family, tours of The Emirates, the London (formerly Olympic) Stadium, Lord’s, and Wembley amongst others are all available.   Transport advice

If choosing to travel to London by plane, Gatwick is just 30 minutes from the centre of London and Heathrow is served by London’s extensive Underground tube service.

London’s Underground is a brilliant way of getting from A to B easily; an Oyster card is needed to use the Underground as well as the buses above the surface.

Better yet, use a contactless debit card – you will not be charged any extra for using your own card, and you will be able to avoid the queues at the Oyster top-up points!

The Underground can be a hot and stifling place, even in the winter. Make sure you wear removable layers if travelling via the tube, and always remember to take a bottle of water!

London cabbies have a famous knowledge of the capital, and will no doubt get you to the correct destination.

However, London is very flat and there are some beautiful parks and rivers, especially in the south-west, so walking can be a better option if time is on your side.   How to get to the ground

Twickenham rail station and the surrounding area is currently being renovated, and as such there is only a temporary station operational until Spring 2019. As a result, the best way to plan your journey to rugby HQ is to travel to Whitton station instead, especially if you require step-free access from the train to the ground. Additional station staff will always be  present on matchdays to advise you on your onward journey.

Walking from the centre of London to Twickenham is unrealistic, so be sure to catch the National Rail to Twickenham or Whitton, and then expect a 10-15-minute walk to the ground. If the walk sounds too taxing, the 281 bus from Twickenham Station will take you almost directly outside the ground.   Top tips

If eating out in London pre or post-match, be sure to look at Time Out’s recommendations. A website and a magazine with circulation in London, Time Out cover for all tastes and budgets, and will filter out the expensive tourist traps that target unfamiliar tourists.

If money is tight but you are looking for something to do in your free time in London, then museums and art galleries are your best bet. Suitable for the whole family, places such as the Natural History Museum and the Victoria & Albert Museum (commonly known as the V&A) are free of charge.

If you are wanting to experience the West End in all its glory, going to see a matinee (afternoon) show is often your best bet. Quieter than in the hustle and bustle of London at night, a matinee performance in any of London’s iconic theatres will set you back less money, too.   2019 fixtures

England will have to wait until Round Two to host a Six Nations tie next year – France visit Twickenham on Sunday, February 10. Eddie Jones will be looking to mastermind a victory against Les Bleus after slipping up in the French capital in 2018.

Twickenham will hold two further games in the Championship: Italy come calling on March 9 before closing out the 2019 edition of the Six Nations against old rivals Scotland. The Calcutta Cup, currently in the hands of England’s northern neighbours, will be on the line as always. But will the two nations be playing for more than one trophy come March 16?

Three standout matches

Twickenham hosted the penultimate round of England’s Grand Slam victory in the 2016 Six Nations, when they beat Wales 25-21.

Despite Wales crossing the try-line three times to England’s one, Owen Farrell was in inspired form from the kicking tee. Notching seven attempts out of seven, England won by four points and this was the catalyst behind their first Grand Slam in 13 years.   You have to go back twenty-three years to recall a Grand Slam winning England on their own turf. The 1995 Five Nations was sealed in style solely by the boot of Rob Andrew as England beat their oldest foes Scotland 24-12 to finish off a famous campaign.   Martin Johnson, having captained England to Six Nations and World Cup victories in 2003, relied on his former team-mate Jonny Wilkinson to grab a title-winning victory for his England side against Scotland in 2011.

Initially Toby Flood played fly-half and notched four penalties, but it wasn’t until Johnson turned to Wilkinson that England pulled away. The all-time points scorer notched a conversion after Tom Croft crossed, and then nailed a last-minute penalty to seal England’s first overall Six Nations title since they ruled the world in ’03.