A look at the Six Nations stadiums

The Six Nations rugby matches begin this weekend, with Wales, Scotland, France, Ireland, Italy and England locking horns to win the 2018 reprisal of this prestigious competition.

The stadiums that are hosting the matches are The Principality Stadium, Stade de France, Stadio Olimpico, Aviva Stadium, Twickenham Stadium, BT Murrayfield and Orange Velodrome.

All of the stadiums where the Six Nations matches take place are interesting from an architectural perspective.

The Principality Stadium

The Principality Stadium was opened in Cardiff in 1999 when it was known as the Millennium Stadium. It holds international Welsh international rugby matches, pop concerts and other sporting events.

The stadium has the first fully retractable roof of any stadium in the UK so that the often disappointing Welsh weather does not stop sporting fixtures. The stadium has a UEFA 5-star rating, which means that it can host Rugby Cup Matches.

In 2005, a drape system was added to the bowl of the stadium to protect the turf so that concerts and exhibitions can be staged. A new Desso pitch was installed in 2015.

The Principality Stadium was built to replace the ageing Cardiff Arms Park. There were proposals to add a new tier to the former stadium to increase its capacity, but thanks to support from the British Government and the National Lottery, the funds were found for a completely new stadium.

The Principality Stadium holds 74,500 spectators. Over 40,000 tonnes of concrete, 12,000 tonnes of structural steel, 34,000 square metres of blockwork, and 24,000 square metres of wall cladding were used to construct the stadium between 1997 and 1999. For spectator safety, there are 1,650 smoke and heat detectors and 35km of fire alarm cable.

Stade de France

Stade de France is at St-Denis La Plaine in France, which is just North of Paris. The stadium hosts concerts, rugby, football and other sporting events.

In May 1992, France was selected to host the FIFA World Cup in 1998, but at the time France did not have a stadium to hold over 45,000 people. The government agreed to fund the building of an 80,000 seater stadium, and the Stade de France was completed in 1998 in time to host the World Cup.

The stadium took 31 months to construct. It features a moveable stand that can be retracted to uncover the athletics track. The stadium was designed with the help of software that simulated how each member of the spectators would be able to see the pitch.

The stadium roof is an elliptical shape that used 13,000 tonnes of steel to protect the 80,000 spectators without covering the pitch. The Stade de France, with its three galleries, is the biggest modular stadium in the world.

The grass pitch can be rolled up when used for concerts. It is not heated, as the Stade de France is located on the site of an old gasworks, and there were concerns that a heated pitch could cause an explosion.

Stadio Olimpico

Home of the Italian rugby team, the Stadio Olimpico is one of the older rugby stadiums in Europe. It was completed in 1953 but started much earlier. It is also stadium for Rome’s two big football clubs: AS Roma and SS Lazio.

Stadio Olimpico was designed to be the centrepiece of the Foro Italia sports complex near Rome that was started during Mussolini’s regime. Construction work began in 1928 and the first tier was completed in 1932. Work was halted because of the outbreak of World War II and resumed at the end of 1950. The stadium officially opened on 17th May, 1952.

Stadio Olimpico was the centrepiece of the 1960 Olympic Games when its original capacity of 1000,000 was reduced to an all-seater capacity of 53,000.

The venue has hosted many international football matches. It had a major refurbishment in 2007 which included replacing all the seats to bring the stadium up to new international standards. The Stadio Olimpico is due to be replaced by the Stadio Della Roma by 2021.

Aviva Stadium

Aviva Stadium is in the Ballsbridge suburb of Dublin, Ireland. The stadium has a 51,700 capacity and was opened in 2010. It replaced the Lansdowne Road Stadium, which was demolished three years earlier.

The stadium is bowl shaped with four tiers on three sides and a basement level. The roof undulates in a wave-like manner in order to avoid blocking out light for those living in its vicinity. The stadium hosts all of Ireland’s home rugby matches.

Twickenham Stadium

Twickenham Stadium in London is known as the home of English rugby. It seats 82,000 spectators and is the world’s largest dedicated rugby stadium.

The ground had originally been a market garden that grew cabbages, hence the nickname of the ground – the Cabbage Patch. The land was purchased in 1907 and the first stands constructed in 1908.

In the 1980s, the stadium was redeveloped, and an extended North Stand opened in 1990. In 1992 a new East Stand was completed followed by the West Stand in 1995. The new millennium has seen a South Stand constructed to bring the capacity of the stadium to 82,000.

BT Murrayfield

The BT Murrayfield stadium is where the Scottish team play their home fixtures. Murrayfield has been hosting sporting events since 1925. In 1991 extensive redevelopment of the stadium and the new West Stand was constructed, and completed in 1994. In 1993, the new North and South stands opened.

As well as rugby, the ground hosts American football, concerts and football matches.

Orange Velodrome

One of two stadia that will be used by France in this year’s tournament, the Orange Velodrome is situated near Marseilles. The original stadium was built for the 1938 World Cup and officially opened in 1937. The stadium used to have a cycle track that circled the pitch. It is a bowl-shaped stadium with covers on both long sides.

The stadium was refurbished for the 1998 World Cup, when the unusual round shaped stands were constructed. Capacity was increased to 60,000, though not all seating areas were covered.

Further redevelopment occurred in 2014, which included a roof to cover all the seats. In 2016, the stadium was renamed the Orange Velodrome following a sponsorship deal with the Orange communications company.

Posted by Mark
February 1, 2018

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