Stephen Brown, chief executive of the Rugby Football Union (RFU), England’s governing body for rugby union, has announced plans to implement a number of changes to the match-day experience at Twickenham after visiting the sport’s national stadium undercover.
Brown and his wife, Karen, were in attendance for the England national team’s Autumn International win against Samoa last month, disguised as anonymous fans so as not to be recognised by stadium staff or his colleagues that were also at the match.
Although Brown admitted that he was spotted by a friend at the match, he was able to keep his identity largely a secret and experience what it is like to visit the stadium as a fan in the stands.
Brown has now compiled an eight-page report on his experience and cited an upgrade to signage around Twickenham, as well as at nearby railway stations, as the most urgent upgrade.
According to ‘The Talk of Rugby’ column in the Telegraph newspaper, Brown said: “I travelled with my wife, Karen, as well. We both did it in style. We wore our own England shirts and took the train from home to Whitton station and walked with the crowds. It was such a great atmosphere the whole way through.
“But it was interesting that my wife, who doesn’t really know the area, wasn’t quite sure which direction it was to the stadium. I do it every day, so it is much easier, but there will be those that will come here who won’t know whether to turn right or left.
“I would definitely improve signage for the person who has never been here before, whether it is when you step out at the station or whether it is when you arrive at the venue and you want to find your seat.
“I actually got a bit lost, can you believe it? I actually got slightly lost getting to my seat and I come here every day.”
Brown also pledged to look at ticket costs for future matches, after the Samoa game featured lower prices than recent meetings with Argentina and Australia, attracting more families to the stadium.
In addition, Brown said that the queuing system for food and drink needs to be improved, while he called for more of a spectacle to be made of arrival of the team buses to help create a greater pre-match atmosphere.