Premiership Grounds focus: the Twickenham Stoop

LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 14: A General view of the Twickenham Stoop prior to the European Rugby Challenge Cup match between Harlequins and Edinburgh Rugby at Twickenham Stoop on January 14, 2017 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Steve Bardens/Getty Images)

Over the road from England Rugby HQ sits the Twickenham Stoop, home of the Harlequins.

A staple of the Premiership since the start of the professional era, The Stoop has had the honour of being the home of three Premiership teams at various times.  Aside from Harlequins, both London Irish and London Scottish have also used the ground as their own.

Last Word on Rugby’s Premiership Grounds focus continues, following on our popular profiles of Sixways, Kingsholm, Sandy Park, Franklin’s Gardens, Ashton Gate, Welford Road and The Rec grounds.

History of the Twickenham Stoop

Unsurprisingly, at the start of the 20th Century, Harlequins used to play their home matches at the national stadium, Twickenham when usage was much lower. This continued into the 1960s until the club acquired the land across the road from Twickenham. This was an athletics ground that initially become Harlequins’ training pitch.

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Why is it called “The Stoop”?

The name of the ground comes from Adrian Stoop, who played for Harlequins and England between 1901 and 1939. He also become Club President during that time and was 56 when he made his final appearance on the pitch.

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As with most Premiership grounds, the stadium has gradually grown with developments of stands on all four sides. In the present day it is now an all-seated ground that holds around 14,800 supporters.

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Best matches at The Stoop

2008 – Harlequins 19 Stade Français 17

One of the many games that cemented Nick Evans as a Harlequins legend. Victorious in the Stade de France the week before, it looked as though Stade would cause another away win upset. Trailing by a point going into the final two minutes, Quins desperately tried to engineer a drop goal opportunity for Evans. The result was 30 extraordinary phases and several try-scoring opportunities. Take a look at the final minutes play here:

Regular venue for Cup Finals

The Twickenham Stoop is also a memorable ground for sides other than Harlequins. Its location in London has made it a venue of finals in various competitions, in various sports and codes.

Perhaps the best final at the ground was the 2006 Challenge Cup final between Gloucester and London Irish that the Cherry and Whites won 36-24 in extra time. This is one of five Challenge Cup finals hosted here, with Gloucester winning two of these.

The Stoop also played host to the 2010 Womens World Cup final between England and New Zealand. The Black Ferns were victorious 13-10 on this occasion. Finally, the English Women’s Premiership has been played at The Stoop in recent years.

The future for Harlequins and The Stoop

The most recent ground development at the Stoop was the South Stand in 2010/11, replacing temporary seating at that end of the ground. It will require frequent sellouts for the club to need to expand the ground further. Happily, an improved season under Paul Gustard has brought Champions Cup Rugby back, following a season in the Challenge Cup that saw average attendances of only 8536.

However the stadium is increasingly being used for other sports and events. It is shared with London Broncos (briefly known as Harlequins Rugby League) and has hosted the annual Varsity Rugby League match between Oxford and Cambridge Universities.

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In June 2019 England Hockey brought a Great Britain vs New Zealand double header to the ground in an experiment to see how existing stadia can be transformed to host hockey matches.

 

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