Here’s our guide to watching Welsh rugby in London…
Unless you’re one of the lucky few to get your hands on a ticket to a Wales game, like the rest of us mere mortals you’ll be pondering the age old question – where shall I watch the match? Staying home is always an option, especially for those of a nervous disposition who need the perfect viewing conditions and want to hang off Eddie Butler’s every word. But for most people, Welsh rugby matches are an opportunity to gather with other Welsh people to enjoy the emotional rollercoaster as one. So here’s our guide to the best places in London to watch Welsh rugby.
1. Central London/the City
Our NUMBER ONE choice - the London Welsh Centre
Best for… the ‘hwyl’ and the warm welcome. You’ll want to come back and watch Wales play (and win) time and time again.
The rugby fan’s venue of choice with loud and clear commentary and plenty of people to share post-match analysis and a sing song with (in that order normally!).This is the centre of the Welsh community in London so you’re unlikely to get any stray opposition fans celebrating a Welsh defeat in this neck of the woods. If you speak a bit of the language it’s not hard to find someone else to chat to in Welsh and while you’re there you could sign up for Welsh lessons, put your name down to sing in a choir or pick up information about pretty much anything Welsh that’s going on in London. The homely atmosphere is a real bonus.
Drink: Brains, Wrexham Lager and other bottled beauties available in Jonesy’s Bar / cask ales available in the upstairs bar (the majority of Wales games are now shown on the Giant Screen in the Main Hall due to the increase in people wanting to watch rugby at the London Welsh Centre – great stuff!)
Food: Pies, pasties and snacks in Nosh Da / hot buffet for 6 Nations matches
Getting there: 10 minute walk from King’s Cross/ Russell Square/Chancery Lane
You are welcome to phone to check screenings and opening times! 0207 837 3722
If you are unfortunate enough not to be able to make it to the London Welsh Centre, here are our other top recommendations:
2. South/South West London
The London Welsh Rugby Club is a great place to be for Wales v England games as they put on a huge marquee with all the trimmings and the atmosphere is rugby-club raucous. Clientele is strange mix of the classic Welsh fan who has come up to London without a ticket, expat Celts having their biennial day of carnage and the suave Richmond rugby crowd who are willing to sacrifice their sports jackets as the SA goes flying in order to be where the action is. Given recent hard times the day is now all about making money for the club so expect a high price to get in and not much change on a fiver for a pint but “it was a small price to pay to be in the big tent when Phillips charged down Balshaw to score two years ago” remarked one recent attendee. The arrival of the stragglers from Twickenham 30 mins after the final whistle either brings the second wind to the party, or the death knell to proceedings, depending on the result.
Drink: plastic glasses of weak beer at continental prices
Food: hog roasts, hot dogs or why not drag your beer-soaked carcass to one of the local brasseries?
Getting there: 10 minute walk from Richmond station
3. West London
F3K is a large sports pub that has become very good at attracting large crowds for Welsh rugby matches. For a big Welsh rugby match they usually set aside a large room which will be packed to the rafters with Welsh fans standing as though they were on the terraces of the old Arms Park. If you want to get a seat or a good spot near the bar it’s essential to get to F3K early. The bar staff are well aware that Welsh fans like nothing better than a good sing-song, so the bar manager often kicks things off with a few “ogy ogy ogies” over a microphone. They have a multitude of large screens and a projector so getting a good view of the action will only be a problem if you’re unlucky enough to be standing behind a lock forward. With Brains on tap and almost everyone wearing red, you could be forgiven for thinking you are in a bar on St Mary Street, Cardiff.
Drink: Brains on tap
Food: bar snacks and the usual selection of pub meals
Getting there: round the corner from West Ken tube station
Link: view map
Do you disagree with our choices or want to recommend somewhere else as a good place to watch Welsh rugby in London? If so, why not go to the London Welsh Messageboard and start a new topic…?