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Rugby Stadia: Behind the Scenes

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The ninth Rugby World Cup kicks off this week in Japan. It is the first World Cup to be hosted in Asia, with 20 teams competing for the trophy.

As the third largest sporting event in the world, the success of the Rugby World Cup hinges on the atmosphere of the stadium crowd. We've taken a look through our past projects to explore the stadia that have set new worldwide standards for rugby matches, as well as the facts that make each venue unique.

Thomond Park Stadium

Famous for the deafening noise during matches and the eerie silence on the kick off, Thomond Stadium was voted as the “Best Rugby Stadium in the World” by Stadia Directory.

The cauldron form created by the main stands has excellent sound quality and retention, making the stadium an exceptional theatre for music events. This is normally a difficult thing to achieve within the structural form, so the stadium is now renowned for its multi-use capability.

Thomond has not only hosted historic international rugby matches but outdoor concerts with performances by P!nk, Elton John, Rod Stewart and Bob Dylan.

There is no segregation between home and away fans, which makes the atmosphere all the more dynamic. The seating is coloured in the ratio of 60% red, 30% navy and 10% gold. The random mixture of these colours creates an optical illusion so the stadium always appears full.

A portion of the rubble from the old stadium and adjoining houses was used in the construction of the new Thomond Stadium. This forged a critical link between the stadium’s rich history and its ambitious future.

Brentford Community Stadium

Framed by three railway lines, Brentford Community Stadium is situated in an uniquely triangular shape and is designed to shine in a jewel shape visible from the sky.

The design embraces the constraints of the site, establishing a triangular theme throughout the stadium. The lights are triangular as well as aspects of the interior design space that sees accents of the three-sided shape throughout, reflecting the angular bee symbol that represents Brentford FC.

A contrast has been created between the bright seating and the surrounding grey elements. The high concentration of red seating around the pitch complements the green and shows up vividly on television.

Welford Road Stadium

Welford Road Stadium is the largest purpose-built club rugby union stadium in the UK and home to one of the oldest and biggest premiership Rugby Clubs in the country: Leicester Tigers.

The stadium fundamentally embodies the idea that stadia have two faces; the outward facing public facade, and the inward spectator bowl. The architectural form is constructed of brick, the traditional material of Leicester, with metal cladding supported by ribbons of steel: a striking build that remains true to its surrounding context.

The simple exterior façade contrasts dramatically with the interior which is predominantly concerned with building atmosphere and intensity.

The pitch is surrounded by strong overarching stands with the green, red, and white colours of the Leicester Tigers. The low curving elements of the terrace and roof provide glimpses of this from the outside, building intrigue and excitement from arrival to kick-off.

AJ Bell Stadium

The home of the Sale Sharks and Salford Red Devils, AJ Bell Stadium is a true multi-use venue, intended to accommodate a variety of sports with ease. The nearby road bridge lights up in the evening, with passing vehicles seeming to fly across the Salford skyline, lending a futuristic feel.

Recently the stadium hosted the Quidditch Premier League finals. Seventeen teams across England and Europe took part in the games. In the final, the East Mids Archers won against the reigning champions, the London Monarchs, in an incredibly close match.

The stadium has close links with the community, positioning itself as fully inclusive. As part of the Department of Health-backed scheme called Connect to Autism, there are full-trained autism-aware staff trained to help and recognise fans and staff with autism.

Peter Mokaba Stadium

Peter Mokaba Stadium was named after a deputy minister of Nelson Mandela’s government and a key figure in the anti-apartheid movement.

At 1288m (4225.7 feet) above sea level, it’s considered to be high altitude for endurance events by the International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF). The stadium itself has been designed to allow fans to enjoy the Polokwane sky, renowned for the amount of stars on show.

The largely concrete structure was inspired by the locally iconic Baobab tree that grows in the region.

The trees can live to be over 3,000 years old and are virtually indestructible by drought, fire, and termites. The corner towers of the stadium present a dominant architectural feature. The walls of the ‘tree’ are punctuated by openings at every level that give access to the bank of lifts that run up through the central void.


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