Priority event booking, free parking permits and good for business – Twickenham residents on the rugby

By Suzie Tombs
November 5 2019, 16.45

Spirits remain high among Twickenham’s residents, business owners and visitors despite England’s disappointing defeat in the Rugby World Cup final on Saturday.

Paula Elderton, 36, from Durban, South Africa, moved to the UK 13 years ago and has lived in Twickenham since 2016.

Mrs Elderton said: “I’m a huge rugby fan and love living here because there’s such a strong sense of community.

“Yes it takes more planning to navigate road closures on match days, but the RFU works hard to keep us informed about rugby fixtures, upcoming events and updates on their work with local schools, sports teams, clubs, charities and other organisations.”

She’s also delighted that residents get early ticket access for RFU stadium events.

“We saw U2 at the stadium a couple of years ago and it was good to get home after a 10-minute walk,” she said.

However, some residents have concerns about alcohol-fuelled rugby fans’ behaviour, most recently during the Army-Navy match in May. In response, the RFU has upped its efforts to find a balance between rugby and the local community’s needs.

Mrs Elderton has witnessed little anti-social behaviour while living in Twickenham. “Some fans may in high spirits but the rugby is good for business,” she said.

Stuart Sandys, 46, long-term resident and manager of family-run business, Sandys Fishmongers on King Street, agreed.

He said: “Local pubs and restaurants cling on to the match fixtures like they’re gearing up for Christmas because without rugby, many local businesses wouldn’t survive.”

A big fan himself, Mr Sandy said: “We take the rough with the smooth – rugby puts Twickenham on the map and for many businesses, it’s their bread and butter.”

Sebastian Hughes, 29, lived opposite the stadium for several years although now lives in Staines.

He said: “I really miss Twickenham and visit whenever I can. It’s a great location with excellent transport links and a real community spirit.”

Anti-social behaviour was never a huge problem for Mr Hughes either although he has seen fans urinating in nearby gardens and used to get frustrated with litter being dumped on pavements around the stadium.

“Twickenham definitely needs more portaloos and bins on big game days,” he said.

IT Administrator, Chris Edgell, 66, has lived close to the stadium for 26 years. He loves match days because the community comes together, and the atmosphere is incredible. He has rarely witnessed any trouble.

“A fleet of rubbish collection trucks arrive at the end of each match and within hours all is good as new,” he said.

He also welcomes the RFU providing residents with free parking permits and the recent installation of security fences preventing access to residents’ gardens.

Two Irish friends living in London, Shivani Kalia, 23, and Jake Conneely, 25, travelled from Vauxhall to watch Saturday’s final at the RFU stadium’s Rose Garden hospitality area.

Ms Kalia said: “The atmosphere was fantastic but extremely tense.”

Like many fans, they had watched most of this year’s World Cup matches at home because of the early morning kick offs.

Ms Kalia said: “It was great to feel part of something positive. The stadium was really family-oriented, and we enjoyed friendly banter with South African fans even though they were outnumbered.”

Mr Conneely said: “The best part was feeling proud of England with other fans, especially given the country’s political state.”

Feature image shows Twickenham resident, LBC host Steve Allen, switching on the Christmas lights with Stuart Sandys at Sandys Fishmongers on Sunday November 3. Image credit: Zach Gerard.

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