Neighbouring the north stands at Twickenham Stadium the Cardinal Vaughan Car Park has seen the warm-up for countless rugby and sporting fixtures. Most recently we have been relishing the atmosphere as England take on some of the top teams in the Northern Hemisphere in the RBS 6 Nations. The latest in this series of mouth-watering contests was the world famous Calcutta Cup, an annual face-off between England & Scotland which was first fought over in 1879.
It seemed as if spring had sprung on Saturday as the guests of Champagne Bollinger & the other supporters basked in glorious sunshine awaiting the beginning of the match. The Cardinal Vaughan Car Park is unequalled in terms of pre-game socialising & networking, it offers the chance for the great & good from many walks of life to entertain & be entertained as well as the chance to do some celebrity spotting. Tales of previous fixtures were traded, prophecies and predictions of all sorts swapped as fans from both sides congregated around picnic tables groaning under the weight of food & drink. Although none were quite as laden with delicious food as those under the Bollinger parasols, for which of course all credit and thanks must got to the fabulous Ben Rule and his team.
Guests were welcomed with glasses of Bollinger Special Cuvée from Magnum, simply splendid in the English sunshine. The first dish served was a roasted celeriac soup with hazelnut pesto, perfectly accompanied by M. Chapoutier Chante-Alouette 2015. This was followed by a stunning beef bourguignon, creamy mash and mixed autumn vegetables complemented by Roda Reserva 2011. Finally a selection of French cheeses, apricot tart & chocolate brownies paired with Taylor’s 20 Year Old Tawny Port.
On the pitch the red rose of England blossomed in the sunshine from the first kick-off, whilst sadly the Scottish thistle seemed to have been caught in a cold snap – uncharacteristic given their recent performances against the Irish & Welsh. So England went home with the Calcutta Cup and celebrated winning the 6 Nations for the second year running, although this did not seem to faze the team who now equal New Zealand with the longest unbeaten test match record ever, 18 games back-to-back. Fans from both sides then came together after the match to celebrate & commiserate the result in style in the Bollinger Tent in the West Car Park.
This weekend saw the culmination of the 6 Nations tournament for another year, the game was played in Dublin so sadly the Cardinal Vaughan Car Park stood empty. The England team managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory in the final game against the Irish. This meant they missed out on the Grand Slam and the chance to set a new record for the longest unbeaten test match run. However it was not all bad news as the England Women’s team, guided by Emily Scarratt, secured the 6 Nations title and with it the Grand Slam as did the Men’s under-20’s team. It is clear as the 6 Nations ends for another year that this has been an outstanding chapter for English Rugby, with fantastic results coming from all areas of the sport and offering plenty of hope for the future of the game.