Twickenham centenary has full programme

From the RFU
This August marks the start of a memorable rugby season when Twickenham Stadium will celebrate its centenary.

Twickenham Stadium’s 2009-2010 season will see the Rugby Football Union celebrate this fantastic milestone with a number of special events and activities, starting with an open training day with the England team during the summer. A rugby star-studded centenary dinner follows in the newly opened Rose Suite in the South Stand on Monday November 2 and celebratory events will continue through the season.

In 1906, the Rugby Football Union asked William Williams to find a suitable location for a home ground for international fixtures. He chose a market garden in Twickenham, famously dubbed Billy Williams’ Cabbage Patch and it was duly purchased for £5,572.12.6 the following year.

The first rugby match held at the stadium took place on October 2 1909 between first tenants Harlequins and Richmond. Harlequins won 14-10 in a stadium which by then had stands on the east and west sides of the pitch and a terrace on the south, with an open mound at the north end of the pitch.

January 15 1910 saw Twickenham’s first international, England beating Wales for the first time since 1898. Twickenham fast became a fortress for the national side, with them winning the championship that year, sharing it with Ireland in 1912 and they secured their first Grand Slam in 1913. During World War I rugby was suspended at the stadium and the pitch was used for horses, cattle and sheep to graze on.

The ground’s capacity increased to 12,000 by 1927, and the first Varsity Match took place that year. In 1932, the stadium capacity increased to 20,000. The Second World War again saw rugby cease at the stadium from 1940 and 1945.

A new South stand was completed by 1981 and officially opened by Sir Hector Munro, the then Sports Minister. Ten years on and the old North Stand was demolished, with a replacement erected by 1991, closely followed by a new East Stand in 1993, officially opened by Her Majesty the Queen. A year later, the new West Stand was opened by HRH The Duke of Edinburgh and the Museum of Rugby (now the World Rugby Museum) was opened in the East Stand in 1996.

A decade later, with the present South Stand bowl completed, Twickenham became the biggest rugby stadium in the world, its 82,000 capacity overtaking the Stade de France, Paris and Telstra, Sydney, both at 80,000.

The South Stand complex, with its flagship Rugby Store, the four-star London Marriott Hotel Twickenham, Virgin Active Classic Health Club, state of the art conference and banqueting facilities and performance space and the RFU’s new headquarter offices will see the last touches complete during the centenary season.

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