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Anyone visiting London who is looking for an interesting event to watch that represents pure English culture will enjoy watching a rugby game. This full contact sport is one of London's pride and joy, since the game originates from England.
What is Rugby?
Since the early 19th century, this popular sport has been spread to many International countries, but remains a favourite, especially in London. The inventor of rugby, Rev. William Webb Ellis came up with the game whilst a pupil at Rugby School.
The spread of the game grew beyond England to countries associated with the British Empire and is now played in over 100 countries in modern days.
There are 12 English teams that play in the Premiership, a professional league in the top division of the English rugby system. Those that play in London include the London Irish, Harlequin F.C., and the London Wasps.
The London Irish
With the colours of green, red and white, The London Irish are an English rugby union club based in Sunbury, Surrey, which is a part of Greater London. The team dates back to the turn of the 20th century, in 1898, for the young Irishmen of London who at one point welcomed players from across the Irish Sea.
These underdogs would rise to thrive in the mid century, only losing 2 games in the entire season of 1959-1960. Their claim to fame would be in 1976-1977 when the London Irish claimed first place in the London Division, with an impressive 6 out of 7 games
Nonetheless, today they are now joined with the London Scottish and Richmond during a merger in 1999 to form a new umbrella team. They'd win the 2002 Powergen Cup final at Twickenham against the Northampton Saints.
The London Wasps
Another historical team is the buzzing London Wasps. Their union was formed in 1867, before the Rugby Football Union was even formed. Though, they were not able to claim this fame due to a silly mishap over attendance at the ceremony.
The team would gain strength during the World War II era when famous player Neville Compton joins and guides the team towards success. Their roller coaster turnouts keep fans on edge at games with huge successes coming in later years, in the 90s and 2000s.
Their big wins include the Tetley’s Bitter Cup in 1999 and 2000, the Heineken Cup in 2004 and once again in 2007.
Colourful in costume design and in spirit is the Harlequin F.C., another English rugby team that plays in the top level for London. Their roots stem from 1966 after finding their team name in a dictionary.
It is said that those who did not like this name ended up joining the London Wasps. The team would join the Official Rugby Football Union in 1906, where they would obtain their new national stadium in Twickenham.
Nicknamed, the Quins, they rose to become quite popular and successful in their professional era games. They'd win the John Player Cup in 1988 and the Pilkington Cup in 1991. Also, they currently hold the world record for providing the most players from one club in a Rugby World Cup Final.
Also in Greater London is the large suburban town of Twickenham. It is home to the headquarters of the Rugby Football Union. Their local team, the Harlequins play at the Twickenham Stoop.
The most prestigious stadium, the largest in the world is Twickenham Rugby Stadium. This facility seats 82,000 and has been used also for rock and pop concert performances. Tourists will appreciate The World Rugby Museum, located in the stadium that tells the whole history of the sport of rugby.
The Heineken Cup
Sponsoring this annual event is the Dutch beer Heineken for what is one of the most important events in Rugby. The Heineken Cup is held by the International Rugby Board where six national teams compete. The competition is between England, France, Ireland, Italy, Scotland and Wales.
Winning this cup is a great honour to represent not only the country, but the entire European rugby world.