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Clive Woodward's damning 'world's biggest pub' Twickenham verdict

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Alex Davidson/The RFU Collection via Getty Images)

Former England coach Clive Woodward had damningly described Twickenham as the world’s biggest pub, alleging there would be a riot at football if fans who drink behaved the way they do during matches at English Rugby HQ.


The 2003 World Cup winner worked at last Saturday’s Guinness Six Nations match versus Scotland and what he experienced during his pre-game walk from pitchside to the ITV studio disturbed him as did first-hand accounts from friends and family who were sitting in the stands during the game.

Woodward claimed he had noticed problems with fans drinking during the recent Autumn Nations Series but his hopes that some changes would be implemented in time for the Six Nations didn’t come to fruition. It has now left the ex-England head coach launching a stinging attack on the RFU and its policy of allowing fans to drink in the Twickenham stands during matches.

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England fans slam atmosphere at Twickenham after loss to Scotland | Six Nations 2023
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England fans slam atmosphere at Twickenham after loss to Scotland | Six Nations 2023

Having played Scotland in round one last Saturday, England have two more home matches in this year’s Six Nations, this Sunday’s meeting with Italy and the March 11 rendezvous with France. Woodward wants steps to be taken to improve the spectator experience at Twickenham.

Writing in his latest Sportsmail column, he said: “Having experienced Twickenham’s drinking culture first-hand while working at England’s Six Nations opener against Scotland, it made me realise that the RFU have a big problem on their hands.


“They have to do something about the huge number of supporters who spend most of the match getting up and down to either go to the bar to buy more beers or to go to the toilet. Twickenham is turning into the world’s biggest pub and for many England fans, watching their team has now become a pretty unpleasant experience.”


Woodward was left fuming by what he saw pre-game last weekend. “Before kick-off on Saturday, I was down at pitch level to preview the match for ITV. As the teams ran out and the anthems were played, we made our way to the studio and walked through Twickenham. I was amazed to see thousands and thousands of supporters still queuing at the bar rather than sitting in their seats ready for kick-off.

“My friends and family were at the match. They were surrounded by people who were more concerned with drinking than the rugby. They were up and down throughout the game. Each time they returned, they were carrying eight pints each.

“There was no trouble. These were decent, polite guys who apologised for causing a disturbance each time, but it was still incredibly annoying for my friends and family and they had beer spilt on them from behind.”

Woodward insisted he wasn’t arguing for a no-drinking policy to be implemented. He just wanted action to be taken to have it moderated before a serious incident takes place. “I regularly watch Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.


“Football is obviously a different experience to rugby because you can’t drink in the stands, but there would be a riot at Stamford Bridge if fans were up and down as they are at Twickenham. There is soon going to be trouble if action is not taken.”


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