By the end of the Pool stages, I’d been to 16 matches and visited 12 of the 13 venues hosting the Rugby World Cup, missing only Wembley.
And what did I think of them all? Find out below!
Transport: First day: Decent train ride out to Falmer, busy back. Second day: Park/walk was great. Really busy but no queues and straight out onto the A27.
Best pub: Seven Stars – great beers, very good food.
Stadium: Comfortable, good facilities, great views and two excellent atmospheres!
Overall: Good, and buoyed by having the game of the tournament. Still a football town, and home to dirty scummer one, at that!
Transport: Not too bad. Long queues to Stratford afterwards though to find empty DLR. Should’ve done different queues depending on where you were going.
Best Pub: Tap East – rammed but great beers. Oh, and advertising showing the games live was actually a tiny TV tucked in a corner. A little misleading!
Stadium: Mix and match seating struggled to get atmosphere going. Bar staff disorganised and a bit abrupt, prices seemed high but turned out pretty standard!
Overall: Strong crowds, decent games, tough atmosphere. (West Ham will struggle here)
Best pub: The Cider Tree – Coming all this way and not having cider seemed wrong, so this place was right! Loads of excellent pubs right by the stadium.
Stadium: Lovely proper rugby ground, friendly staff and cracking atmosphere.
Overall: A complete winner, I’m not blaming my coach ride on them!
Transport: The trains from the city to Witton were directed the long way around which kept them flowing regularly. Well organised and plenty of them, even coming back.
Best pub: plenty of bad ones until I enlisted help from a local… Cherry Reds is a cool little bar, kitsch, with a good choice of beers!
Stadium: Not ready for rugby fans turning up three hours early, buying 4 beers at a time and repeating until the game is over. Bar staff froze! It’s a proper old football stadium but not so much a rugby one!
Overall: Rugby has no foot print here usually and that won’t change but it’s a decent sporting venue and the city is lively.
Transport: Easy to get into the city and to the stadium, but shuttle queues back were crazy. Could’ve (and should’ve) walked.
Best Pub: Only went to one here, it was alright but wouldn’t “promote” it.
Stadium: My first time here for any sport and helped by being right by the tunnel. Facilities at our section were worse than awful though. I don’t think it had been painted since before the War. The Boer War…
Overall: We rushed in and out here a bit so unfair to judge too far, but it was probably bottom of my venue list.
Transport: Had heard horror stories in and out of the city but we went early and stayed longer. No issues other than our hotel was near the airport and we spent about £100 on taxis! I’d say it was poor planning, but I booked the hotel 10 months in advance!
Best pub: Notable mentions to Zerodegrees, Brewdog and The City Arms but the best beers were at the Rummer Tavern. Early on the pub was great, but post-match it smelt of sweaty armpits, probably due to the hundreds of rugby fans inside. Would still recommend, but go early! A proper pub!
Stadium: Great stadium, smack bang in the city, great views but open the bloody roof. It’s an outdoor sport.
Overall: Lots of bars in a small area, friendly locals and a good night out. Not bad!
Transport: Was a bit worried as the last few times have been an absolute mess. Was much smoother than normal, other than they still need more Oyster card readers! Going back was quieter than normal – many people seemed to be heading to the Waterloo shuttle buses rather than the trains.
Best pub: Didn’t go to any – by the time I arrived the Cabbage Patch was rammed so we went straight in.
Stadium: I love Twickenham, despite the awful location, but putting the entrances where the car park usually is actually seemed to make it appear busier, despite the extra space.
Overall: It’s always home, and I always enjoy going. Whatever the result.
Transport: Stayed with friends, who are a lovely 30 minute stroll along the canal from the stadium. So that was nice!
Best pub: Pre-match, walking along the canal, Soar Point does some great beers and pretty good food.
Stadium: Another I’ve visited for football but the atmosphere created by the Argentinians (and Diego bloody Maradona!) was special. I’m still annoyed they didn’t use Welford Road so lose points for that!
Overall: I like Leicester as a city, and it proved to be a good host, even at the wrong stadium!
Transport: Trains easy, shuttle buses OK but dropped you about a mile from the stadium, which wasn’t great in the rain.
Best pub: Only drank in the stadium so can’t really comment!
Stadium: Soulless bowl bought to life by locals and an excellent match. Too much bare concrete and steel beams. Add some colour, chaps!
Overall: Better than I expected, despite the above!
Transport: Other than underestimating the hill to walk up to my hotel, the transport here seemed a bit disorganised. First I was told to take a train so bought a train ticket – except nobody told me the next train was in almost 40 minutes time! So then I was told to get the shuttle bus – which you also had to pay for! Anyway, I got there, reasonably quickly and the post-match queues weren’t too bad.
Best pub: The Well House Tavern was a winner – great beers, friendly staff.
Stadium: Another proper rugby ground and, despite losing my ticket, I was stood on the terrace. It didn’t seem very full, but a good atmosphere.
Overall: A fun, pretty city and a good day out!
Transport: The Metro is great to get around, and the stadium is almost right in the city centre. Easy.
Best pub: I had 2 days here, so there were a fair few to choose from! I went to The Bridge Tavern more than once, so that must be a good sign. Nice food, too.
Stadium: Not quite up in the gods, thankfully, but such a towering stadium gives an interesting perspective on the game!
Overall: Lively city, easy to get around and a decent stadium.
Transport: Shuttle buses seemed a little bit of a mess, trams were rammed, so I walked. And walked. It’s a good 45minute walk from the city centre with crowds.
Best pub: I stayed, and drank, at the Mitre Hotel. Decent enough, and convenient for my room!
Stadium: A screw up with the security meant that after the long walk we were told the queue to get in was “at least” 30 minutes. Directed to far side of the stadium where the queue was shorter. They have big games and crowds here every 2 weeks – why the need for over the top security now? And they had the most meaningless game of the tournament other than the 3rd place play-off. Way to get involved!
Overall: Long sweaty walk, rubbish atmosphere, general England disappointment… this could’ve been better but Manchester drew a short straw!