Following WP Rugby’s move away from Newlands, and reports of the B&I Lions tour potentially being held in the UK and Ireland later this year, we take a closer look at the most iconic Test-rugby stadiums around the globe.
Twickenham (London, England)
Twickenham, universally regarded as the home of rugby, is one of the most renowned stadiums in world rugby. With a capacity of 82,000 it is also comfortably one of the biggest.
‘HQ’ typically plays host to all England Rugby Union Test matches, but also other tournament-specific fixtures that do not involve England, like World Cup games and matches involving invitational sides like the Barbarians. Occasionally, the venue also hosts concerts.
Principality Stadium (Cardiff, Wales)
Wales’ Principality Stadium (formerly Millennium Stadium) has hosted some of the most exciting games in rugby. Nestled in the heart of Cardiff, what makes this stadium so special is that it is surrounded by pubs typically overflowing with Welsh fans.
Few would argue that when it comes to singing the anthems, no one does it better than the Welsh. Hearing a packed Principality Stadium in full voice is one of the most spine-tingling experiences in rugby.
Ellis Park (Johannesburg, South Africa)
Ellis Park was the setting for arguably rugby’s most iconic moment. When a plane flew low over the stadium before the 1995 World Cup final, what followed was a stunning 15-12 upset win over the All Blacks and newly elected democratic president Nelson Mandela’s presentation of the Webb Ellis Cup to Springbok captain Francois Pienaar.
There has been many a memorable moment at Ellis Park since, including the last home win for the Boks against New Zealand in 2014. Ellis Park remains one of the toughest stadiums in the world for visiting teams to score a victory.
Eden Park (Auckland, New Zealand)
The largest sporting venue in New Zealand, Eden Park is also the first and only stadium in the world to host two Rugby World Cup finals (1987, 2015).
It is regarded as the most feared and difficult ground to win at for an away team. In 87 Test matches at the ground since 1921, the first being a 5-9 loss to South Africa, the All Blacks have lost only 10 times and boast a 87% winning percentage.
Murrayfield (Edinburgh, Scotland)
Built in and named after Edinburgh’s Murrayfield district, the ground is the home of Scottish rugby as well as the largest stadium in Scotland. In addition to staging international fixtures, the ground has also played host to sevens tournaments based in Scotland.
The atmosphere for rugby matches at Murrayfield is like no other. The often cold, dark and wet weather make the warmth and exuberance of the crowd all the more enjoyable. The echoing sounds of bagpipes during the anthems leave spectators in no doubt as to where they are!
Aviva Stadium (Dublin, Ireland)
The old stadium at Lansdowne Road was demolished in 2007, and the Aviva Stadium built on the same site has been the home of Irish rugby ever since.
Although many would contend that it has been impossible to recreate the history and esteem of the old Lansdowne Road, the new stadium is one of the most visually impressive in the world. Its undulating structure, mostly of glass, makes it a standout.
Newlands (Cape Town, South Africa)
Newlands may be a thing of the past, but its status as the oldest rugby stadium and as one of most scenic venues in world rugby should not be diminished.
In the wake of the Western Province Rugby Union’s move to the Cape Town Stadium, reports have started circulating that Newlands, with all its history and traditions, will be demolished and redeveloped in the coming years. It would be a sad end for the Grand Old Lady, which has played host to centuries of enthralling rugby.