Tag Archives: rugby

Harlequins: Marking the End of the O’Shea Era

We don’t often cover rugby on this site but, and it’s a big but, Harlequins are Twickenham’s top flight team and in the last few years under the direction of Conor O’Shea the club has achieved some notable success including winning their first (and only) Aviva Premiership title in 2012. Now O’Shea’s leaving the club and heading to Italy, times are changing and we felt it was worth paying tribute to the man and the success he brought to The Stoop. Occasional twickerati roving reporter and big Quins fan Bill Webb-Ellis looks back on the O’Shea era and ponders on what the future may bring…

 

With the reduced, ‘de-funned’ (for which read, de-deathed due to excessive drinking) London 7s last weekend, as well as the Aviva Premiership semi-finals taking place, the players at Harlequins were busy posting photos of themselves in Cannes on Instagram. Their coach for the past six years however may well be ruing his send off the previous Friday night in the European Challenge Cup Final.

With 80 minutes played and trailing by seven points, Quins had possession in their own half, if they could get a converted try, they could take the game to extra time. The ball came to flyhalf, Ben Botica, who inexplicably kicked it up field, giving possession to Montpellier who carried it out to win the match and the cup. Botica had already signed to play for Montpellier next season, and the conspiracy theorists had a field day. In truth, the game had been lost in the previous 80 minutes with Harlequins out-muscled by Jake White’s strong South African bolstered side, unrecognisable from the team that Harlequins put 41 points past at home in November 2015.

Conor O’Shea arrived at Quins in March 2010 among the embers from Bloodgate, and took over from caretaker coach John Kingston after Dean Richards resigned and was then banned from rugby for three years. O’Shea won 35 caps for his country as a stylish full-back and had played, captained, coached, been Director of Rugby and even Managing Director of London Irish, before working for the RFU as Director of Regional Academies and then National Director of the English Institute of Sport.

In O’Shea’s first full season, he took Harlequins to victory over Munster at Thomand Park in a Challenge Cup semi-final, becoming only the second club to beat the Irish province at home in a European Competition. In the final, Quins beat Stade Français with a last-minute try from Argentinian wing Gonzo Comacho, sent through the French side’s defence by a grubber from Danny Care; the conversion by Nick Evans gave them the cup by a point, 19–18 at the Cardiff City Stadium.

The confidence that came from the cup win after the lows and humiliation from the season before brought about a new Quins’ style. O’Shea held a summit with his four coaches as to what was needed to move on. The words and phrases that cropped up were leadership, culture, empowering players, discipline, and the response was immediate. In the 2011–12 season, Harlequins won their first 10 premiership games before losing to Saracens at Twickenham in the Big Game 4. A home playoff semi-final against Northampton Saints saw a 14-man maul go over the line for Joe Marler to score the winning try and secure a 25-23 victory.

Quins v Wasps [copyright Seconds Left Images]

Quins v Wasps  (Copyright Andrew Fosker / Seconds Left Images)

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Record RFU Revenues Bankroll Redevelopment

The RFU will battle again with Twickenham residents and El Brute’s Planning Committee after it announced plans to redevelop the East Stand (the Rugby Road side) to increase corporate hospitality at the stadium. A heated debate at the recent planning meeting led to the Union’s plans to hold a Monster Jam at the home of rugby being sent back for further assessment of the environmental impact, as reported here on twickerati.

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Rugby Sevens Tournament to be Scaled Back

Good news for all those people (i.e. pretty much most of Twickenham) who were angered by the volume of rubbish in the streets after last May’s Marriot London 7s tournament at the rugby stadium. The fancy dress themed rugby party left a trail of litter and discarded alien outfits across the town centre. The RFU have responded to complaints from residents and discussions with the El Brute to scale back next year’s event. The plan?

* Attendance will be capped at 35,000 per day, a lower level than before.
* Stadium bars will have restricted opening and the police will have ‘dispersal power’ around the stadium and in the town centre.
* The RFU and LBRuT will work together on a ‘comprehensive street cleaning and toilet plan’.
* The fancy dress theme will be dropped in favour of a more family friendly approach.

Letter from RFU

Letter from RFU

[Click on the pic to enlarge it.]

In the ‘Dear neighbour’ letter the RFU say they take their relationship with the local community ‘very seriously’. Comments or questions can be emailed to twickenhamcommunity@rfu.com

So, positive steps it would seem and all those stag do’s will have to look elsewhere for their drinking session in the sun next May. A victim of its own ‘success’ perhaps?

LINK:
* Twickerati pics from May’s Marriot London 7s

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The Official Twickerati Visitors Guide to Twickenham

Twickenham. A town with balls.

Twickenham. A town with big balls.

Coming to Twickenham for the Rugby World Cup? You are? Welcome! Bienvenue! Ciao! G’day! The other ones!  You’ve probably already got all your plans sorted out for your visit, haven’t you? Beer, rugby, curry, more beer then get the hell out of here. Are we right? Probably, but we hope not totally. Twickenham is more than just rugby and we should know, we bloody live here. All the time.

We thought we’d give you a few pointers to non-rugby things you could do if you’re staying around for a few days. We’re not going to tell you about all the pubs, cafes and restaurants right in the town centre (you can find them yourself) or about the huge RWC Fanzone in the Old Deer Park in Richmond, you can find that too although don’t expect to find many old dears there, it’ll be far too noisy for them. We’re also not going to go banging on about the likes of Richmond, Kew Gardens, Hampton Court or even central London. You can do that yourselves.

First, some background on Twickenham…

The town is London’s premier leafy suburb. It is part of the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames (LBRuT) which is affectionately known as El Brute. Top dawg on El Brute Council is the Blue Baron. Yes, he’s a real person, yes he’s a real baron and yes he really is blue (politically speaking). The Blue Baron’s seat of power lies at York House, the Twickenham HQ of Richmond Council where naked ladies cavort in the grounds. There are naked horses there too. Kinky or what? Continue reading

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Twickenham, Are You Ready for The Rugby World Cup?

It’s nearly here! After all the talking up, talking down, excitement, dread and indifference (delete as appropriate) the Rugby World Cup kicks off in two week’s time when England take on Fiji. Over the six weeks of the tournament Twickenham will host ten matches from that opening Fiji game on Friday 18th September through to the final on Saturday October 31st. Three of the weekends even have two matches in them. In other words, it’s going to be busy. An England v France warm up ‘test event’ took place recently (featuring extra road closures and pubs being asked to restrict post-match admissions) and another is planned for 5th September when England play Ireland. Basically, Twickenham is now officially in Rugby World Cup mode.

Cannes

Twickenham stadium

So folks, prepare yourself for rugby fans from around the world descending on Twickenham and not only on match days but across the whole tournament. You might even spot the odd player too as South Africa and the All Blacks will be setting up camp at St Mary’s University and the Lensbury respectively. And even if you don’t see the players you will probably be confronted by some very big coaches on the mean streets of ‘Nam. We mean coaches of the vehicular kind not the bull-necked, vein-busting, overly-shouty kind obviously.  Put simply, love it or loathe it, for the next couple of months you’re unlikely to be able to avoid the Rugby World Cup. Continue reading

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A Rubbish Morning in Twickenham 

A sunny Sunday morning in Twickenham after the Marriot London 7s. Everyone likes a party, right? Certainly the tens of thousands who descended on Twickenham at the weekend in fancy dress liked to party. Hard. In fact, they liked it so much they decided to share some of it with the rest of us. Litter (tick), broken glass (tick), pissing in the street (tick). The combination of an event that has become party destination for a youngish crowd, the warm weather, people stocking up with shop bought booze to carry on drinking after pubs closed early, all made for a grim sight on Sunday morning. Yes, the Council did turn up to begin the clear-up at about 11.00am but surely LBRuT and the RFU need to be doing more? The annual London 7s is not your average day at Twickenham (luckily) but with the Rugby World Cup only months away, some serious thinking – and money – is required to tackle mess like this sooner and better.

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King Street litter [Photo courtesy of Deryn Harvey on Facebook]

King Street litter
[Photo courtesy of Deryn Harvey on Facebook]

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Rugby World Cup Residents Briefings Scheduled

Twickenham stadium

Twickenham stadium

You will be looking forward to this year’s Rugby World Cup with either excitement or dread. Or indifference. Indifference might not be the best option given that the event is going to have a much greater impact on the town than the usual Six Nations and Autumn International matches.

The tournament begins with England v Fiji on 18th September, the first of ten games at Twickenham Stadium over a six week period. In addition to the usual match day stuff that you’ll be well used to by now, there will be international teams based locally ‘for training purposes’, visitors staying in the town (no doubt you’re registering with airbnb as you read this) and a ‘Festival of Rugby’ across El Brute’s domain with arts and music events as well as oval ball related antics. Oh, and there’s an agreement ‘in principle’ to close sections of the A316 on match days. Yikes. In other words, Twickenham will be busy.

If you want to find out more about these arrangements to help you prepare (or perhaps to help you plan your escape) then El Brute are running a series of community briefings in the coming weeks. There are business briefings on 27th February and 3rd and 12th March. These are now fully booked although the resulting FAQs will be made available online afterwards.

Briefings for residents (that’s people like you, btw) will take place between 5th and 23rd March. Details are:
*  Thursday 5th March, 6.30 – 8.30pm, Chase Bridge School, Whitton
*  Monday 9th March, 6.30 – 8.30pm, Turks Head pub, St Margarets (Full, apparently)
*  Tuesday 17th March, 6.30 – 8.30pm, Clarendon Hall, York House, Twickenham
*  Monday 23rd March, 6.30 – 8.30pm, Richmond Adult Community College, Parkshot, Richmond

 

LINKS:
* LBRuT – briefings page
* El Brute RWC main page
* Rugby World Cup 2015

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The Rugby World Cup, the RFU… and You

Twickenham stadium

Twickenham stadium

New World Cup item is HERE.

Previously…

Twickenham in south west London is famous as the home of English rugby. How’s that for an utterly fatuous introduction to an article? It’s pathetic. You live here, you know that already. Despite the opening inanity, what that ‘rugby fame thing’ actually means to you personally is something which carries a little more significance. Like it or not Twickenham is a rugby town – not exactly built around rugby perhaps, but certainly heavily influenced and affected by it. Whether you love rugby, can’t stand it or are totally indifferent to it, having up to 82,000 fans descend on Twickenham for big internationals isn’t something you can simply ignore.

The Autumn Internationals are upon us (two down, three to go) and you’ll be delighted / devastated to hear that it’s just three months until the 2015 RBS Six Nations begins again. And 2015 will be quite a year what with the ol’ Rugby World Cup malarkey taking place in England.  Some huge games will put Twickenham under the global rugby spotlight like never before.  [We’re not entirely sure what the global rugby spotlight is but it sounds pretty powerful.]

The tournament kicks off with England v Fiji at Twickenham on 18th September and over the following six weeks Twickenham will host ten matches through to the final on 31st October. That’s a lorra, lorra rugby. Add to that all the visiting fans staying locally and the South Africa and New Zealand teams being based nearby at St Mary’s University and the Lensbury Club and it should make for quite an event. El Brute have even announced that they are setting up a, wait for it, Rugby World Cup Scrutiny Panel, to help create a ‘Festival of Rugby‘ across the borough. We’re talking arts, music, sporty stuff and even a FanZone. The festival will run from May until the end of the tournament. Twickenham will be buzzing.

So far, so what? Twickenham isn’t just the home of England rugby, it’s also a real place, with real residents and real businesses. The RFU has the tricky task of managing ‘rugby plc’ complete with very large stadium whilst also trying to maintain good relations with the locals. It’s certainly not impossible but it does have its tensions. Continue reading

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Chelsea in Twickenham Move?

Cannes

Terry, Costa, Fabregas & Co

Football – of the ‘association’ variety – on a rugby pitch?!? And not just any old rugby pitch mind you! We’re talking about Twickenham Stadium, the home of England Rugby. There are some folk who’d be outraged by the very thought of it. In fact some of them are probably already incandescent with rage, their blood boiling as they punch the screen of their laptop or stamp their smartphone into the dusty ground. Could it really happen? It could! Maybe.

The RFU have confirmed that Chelsea have been in contact with them about the possibility of using Twickenham stadium while Stamford Bridge gets redeveloped and expanded. According to BBC Sport, the RFU have said: “We have had an enquiry from Chelsea FC but have not had any discussions of any substance”. So, it’s early days and Chelsea are said to be considering a number of different options of which Twickenham is just one. Will the RFU be inclined to let a spherical ball roll around on the hallowed Twickenham turf? They might. There’s a lot of money in football and there are plenty of examples of football and rugby clubs sharing grounds although not quite in the same Premier League club / ‘national stadium’ way that this would play out.

And then of course there’s the question of what this might mean for the town on match days with thousands Chelsea fans making a beeline for Twickenham from across south west London and the Surrey prawn sandwich belt. 80,000 boozy rugby fans is one thing, 60,000 football fans is another.

So, would you be happy to see Chelsea set up a temporary home at Twickenham Stadium? And will it ever happen??

It’s fait to say there are a lot of unhappy people out there and, in true Twickenham spirit, there’s now a petition against the idea.

LINK:
* BBC Sport

* Online petition opposing the idea

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