From its roots as a cabbage patch to one of rugby's most iconic stadiums, we look back at the history of Twickenham

With news that the Rugby Football Union included an option to sell Twickenham in a 69-page masterplan blueprint last year, we thought it was worth trawling the annals of history to look back at some key moments in the life of the iconic stadium.

Twickenham, commonly referred to as ‘Twickers’, held its first match in 1909 as Harlequins secured a four-point win over Richmond on a dreary day in south-west London after the ground was bought by RFU Committee member Billy Williams in 1907.

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It had been a market garden used to grow cabbages before the decision of Williams to acquire the land for little over £5,500 gave life to what would eventually become one of rugby’s most well-known arenas.

The first stands were constructed in 1908, as were roads and pedestrian pavements, with England taking on Wales in the stadium’s maiden international encounter in 1910 in front of 22,000 fans.

The first World War put a halt to rugby at Twickenham, which was used for cattle, horse and sheep grazing, but the sport returned once the fighting stopped.

Since then, Twickenham has hosted some of the most memorable matches in the history of rugby.

Following the construction of the 10,500 seat North Stand in 1925, a record crowd of 60,000 poured in to watch England take on New Zealand as part of the Invincibles tour.

Twickenham Stadium over the years

Seven years later, an investment of £75,025 brought upgrades to the West and South stands, increasing capacity further and bringing staff offices inside the grounds.

In a landmark moment for the sport, the first rugby match was broadcast live from Twickenham in 1938 as England welcomed Scotland for the 52nd Calcutta Cup match. It was the Scots who prevailed 21-16 after Robert Wilson Shaw’s late try, which is considered one of the greatest scores of all time and sparked wild scenes of celebration.

It became a civil defence depot during the second World War and sustained damage to the upper tier of the West Stand, but it would be stitched up before a Victory test match was played out between England and Scotland to honour those who had given their lives to defend the country.

The 50-year anniversary of the first game at Twickenham was marked by a rematch between Harlequins and Richmond in 1959, while 20 years later, planning permission was granted for the new South Stand, which included a new tier.

In 1991, England completed the Five Nations Grand Slam at Twickenham with a 21-19 victory over France, which was the 19th time they had claimed the title outright, including their five Home Nations triumphs.

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Later that year, Twickenham hosted its first Rugby World Cup final. England beat France and Scotland for the chance to lift the Webb Ellis Cup at their home ground but came up short, losing a tight final 12-6 to Australia.

Work on the stands continued. In 1993 a new East Stand was completed, providing 25,000 seats, while the new West Stand opened in 1995 after it was demolished in 1994.

The South Stand was then demolished in 2005 and reopened a year later, which increased capacity to 82,000.

Although the stadium has been used as a host venue for other events – the likes of the Rolling Stones, U2, Rod Stewart and Rihanna have all performed on the hallowed turf – when you think of Twickenham, you think of rugby.

Particularly memorable for England fans of a certain vintage would have been the 43-3 win over Scotland in 2001 en route to a second successive Six Nations crown, while the 61-21 triumph over the same old foe in 2017 must surely also stand out.

In 2015, Twickenham became the first stadium to stage two World Cup finals. After winning the bid to host the tournament, the possibility of selling naming rights was explored with a view to raising money for upgrades, although it didn’t materialise.

Unlike in 1991, England didn’t feature in the final after Stuart Lancaster’s side were dumped out in the group stage, but Twickers was still the venue for a brilliant spectacle as the All Blacks conquered Australia 34-17 to successfully defend the Webb Ellis Cup.

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