The Sports Archives – Britain’s Rugby Stadiums: A Brief History

Come November, British rugby fans will flock to their respective fortresses to cheer on home nations as they do battle against a host of overseas touring sides in the autumn internationals. Let’s take a look at what you need to know about each of the rugby union stadiums around the UK.



England’s home stadium held its first international on January 15th 1910 when less than 12,000 spectators watched the hosts beat Wales 11-6. It has since undergone many redevelopments and currently seats 82,000, along with a hotel and world rugby museum. England’s record victory at Twickenham came in 2001 when they ran in twenty tries to beat Romania 134-0. A better contested though less auspicious occasion came when the hosts were beaten 6-12 by Australia in the final of the 1991 World Cup.


Scotland’s home ground is Murrayfield, a 67,200 capacity stadium in Edinburgh which opened in 1925. The Scots play all their home Six Nations game there and it also hosts large-scale pop concerts and select football games, such as important Heart of Midlothian fixtures. Murrayfield holds the official British rugby attendance record, when 104,000 people watched Scotland play Wales in 1975. The home side have claimed impressive scalps over South Africa and Australia in recent years but, their opponents in November, New Zealand, have registered three victories at Murrayfield since 2008, with a combined points tally of 121 to 9.

Lansdowne Road/ Aviva Stadium

The oldest major rugby union location in the British Isles is Lansdowne Road in Dublin, Ireland. Opened in 1872, the original 48,000-capacity home of Irish rugby and football was demolished in 2007 to make way for the Aviva Stadium, an ultra-modern £350 million 51,000-seater complex, three years later. The old ground was removed due to both ends being standing terraces which limited its ability to host top flight contests under official safety rules. While Ireland lost only five of their last 31 games at Lansdowne Road, since arriving at the Aviva the men in green have only won five matches, and lost six. Perhaps the home advantage of having two packed terraces roaring them on has been diluted since spectators have been forced to sit down.

Cardiff Arms Park/ Millennium Stadium

Wales have gone through a much similar transition to Ireland in terms of the genesis of their home stadium. Originally, Cardiff Arms Park became the nearby National Stadium, which was then demolished due to capacity restrictions based on all-seater regulations. In its place came the Millennium Stadium, an iconic 74,500 capacity venue opened in 1999, which has hosted many events since its inception, particularly deputising for Wembley when English football was redeveloping its home. The stadium is unique in British rugby in that it has a retractable roof, making it a popular venue for music concerts.

Leading rugby events and Twickenham tickets provider Keith Prowse produced this article.


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