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Taken from Brewer’s Dictionary of London Phrase & Fable

Brewer's London Phrase & Fable

Billy Williams’ Cabbage Patch
The English Rugby Football Union’s ground at Twickenham, the headquarters of the game, also known as Twickers. It is popularly so called after William (Billy) Williams (1860–1951), who discovered the site and who persisted until it was acquired for rugby in 1907. The latter part of the name refers to the ground’s former use as a market garden. The first match played there, on 2 October 1909, was between Harlequins and Richmond, and the first international was England v. Wales the following year. The nearby Railway Tavern changed its name to the Cabbage Patch in 1959 when England and Wales played Scotland and Ireland in a centenary match. The ground is now also the site of the World Rugby Museum, and tours of the stadium are held six days a week, except when a match or event is taking place.
Billy Williams’s cabbage patch has never staged a more momentous game than this afternoon’s match between England and the All Blacks.
The Times (9 October 1999)

The cabbage patch today

London Scottish FC
A rugby union club originally founded in 1878 by a group of London-based Scots exiles. Based in Richmond, the club enjoyed a distinguished history in rugby union’s amateur period up until 1995, contributing numerous players to the Scottish national side. London Scottish failed to survive as a professional club, however, and was disbanded in 1999 (when it was nominally merged with London Irish). A resuscitated amateur club has since worked its way up several divisions from the bottom of the league pyramid and assumed semi-professional status.

The Stoop
The informal name of the Twickenham Stoop, formerly the Stoop Memorial Ground, which is situated on Langhorn Drive in north-west Twickenham. The Harlequin (rugby union) Football Club acquired the pitch for training purposes in 1963, subsequently playing its home matches here. Since 2005 Harlequins’ sister rugby league club has shared the ground, which is named after Adrian Dura Stoop (1883–1957), a London-born rugby union player of Dutch descent. Stoop played 182 times for Harlequins, serving as team captain for eight years and later becoming the club’s honorary secretary and then president. Quite separately, ‘the stoop’ was formerly a slang term for the pillory.

The short name of London Wasps and Wasps FC, both of which are rugby union clubs. Their mutual antecedent was formed in 1867 as a breakaway from Hampstead FC and played its early games at a ground on Finchley Road. Wasps aspired to be founder members of the Rugby Football Union but failed to attend that body’s inaugural meeting in January 1871. As the club’s historian explains: ‘In true rugby fashion the team turned up at the wrong pub, on the wrong day, at the wrong time.’ Wasps rented several grounds around London before settling at sudbury in 1923. The club split into professional and amateur halves in 1996, the former subsequently adding ‘London’ to its name, although its home games are now played outside the capital at Adams Park in High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire. The club has contributed many players to the England national side, including Roger Uttley, Nigel Melville, Rob Andrew and Lawrence Dallaglio. Wasps FC plays at Twyford Avenue sports ground in Acton, where the professional club trains and has its offices.

A small selection from the sports-related entries in Brewer’s Dictionary of London Phrase & Fable (excluding images), published September 2009

Brewer's London Phrase & Fable

Text and selected images are reproduced with the permission of Chambers but may differ from the published versions
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