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NFL Adds Twickenham Stadium to Growing London Line Up

The home of English rugby is set to welcome America's biggest sport from 2016.
November 3, 2015, 8:29pm

As the home of English rugby, Twickenham is one of the country's most iconic sporting venues. Colloquially known as 'HQ', it has been the beating heart of the English game since it was purchased in 1907 by the RFU for £5,500 and 12 shillings.

But from October next year the ground will swap the dulcet tones of 'Swing Low Sweet Chariot' for less tuneful yelps of "De-fense! De-fense!" after the NFL agreed a three-year deal to stage a minimum of three games at the stadium from 2016.

READ MORE: The NFL Should Visit London, But Not Stay

"We are committed to continuing to grow our sport in the UK," said Mark Waller, the NFL's executive vice-president of international, "and believe that adding Twickenham Stadium to our roster of host venues in London is further evidence of that commitment."

Yes, he did say "roster". Twickenham is now part of a "roster". Deep breath, chaps; just lie back and think of England.

In fact, staging events that you might consider anathema to many rugby traditionalists is not entirely new to Twickenham. Very, very, very American songstresses like Rihanna and Lady Gaga have performed at the ground, while it has also been a venue for the Jehovah's Witnesses' end-of-year convention (man, what does that party look like at 3am). The message from Twickenham seems to be 'the more the merrier'.

READ MORE: What's it Like Being a British NFL Fan?

As for the NFL, its presence in Britain (or more specifically London) continues to grow. The league already has an agreement to stage at least two games a year at Wembley, and will also add two per year at Tottenham Hotspur's new-for-2018 stadium. It's worth noting that this does not yet exist, but crucially it will be in London.

That means there will be at least five NFL games a year played in the city over the next few years, which is great news if you live in the capital and bad luck if you don't. But for all the talk of Euopean expansion, the sport remains absent from other significant markets such as Germany, France, and every other part of Britain that isn't London.