Surviving Twickenham

The final whistle marks the end of one game and the start of another. As you exit the stadium along with tens of thousands of others, you will very quickly reach the A316, the main road into London. This is the stick-or-twist moment and your whole trip hangs on making the right decision.

Be warned: nothing good ever came of turning right on to the A316. This would lead you towards Whitton and then Hounslow, which has just one point of interest – Freddie Mercury was born there. But unless you really like Queen, it is to be avoided.

Now, to Twickenham’s boozing stations. For most of the year the Grand Union pub in Twickenham is a pretty ordinary place, not somewhere you want to go necessarily, but harmless enough. But, for 10 or so days a year it changes character, like an accountant wearing a party shirt for the Christmas do.

On February 27th, when Ireland play England in the RBS Six Nations rugby tournament, the Grand Union will be full to bursting with red-faced men up from the west of England dressed in St George flags and singing Swing Low Sweet Chariot on a loop for eight hours, fuelled by industrial-strength lager and cheese-and-onion crisps. Drop in for a pint by all means. But if you’re still in there at 10pm, you know deep down something has gone very badly wrong with your weekend.

Better still, stay on the train until St Margarets, and meet up at the Turk’s Head a few minutes’ walk from the station. It does a barbecue in the garden and is popular with locals going to the game. From there it’s a 10-minute walk to the ground.

Or, after Ireland thrash England on the field you can go down to the White Swan and cry your tears into the thames.

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