Steve Borthwick’s boys have a tough contest ahead of them as the team gears up for the rugby world cup, but it shouldn’t be as difficult for fans to find a decent spot to watch the action.
Twenty teams are now in France, competing in the 20th edition of the cup, which is the hallmark event in the rugby calendar.
South Africa are reigning champions after beating England in the final of the last tournament, in Japan in 2019, and are among the favourites vying for victory this year. Closer to home, a strong European contest is expected. Ireland trounced England in a warm-up match early in August, while hosts France are no doubt determined to break their drought to lift the Webb Ellis Cup at the Stade de France on October 28. This weekend, England take on Chile, Ireland square off against South Africa — which should be a thrilling match — and Scotland face Tonga.
As fans devise a game plan to cheer on their team of choice, we’ve rounded up a few of London’s best pubs and bars for match days, with nice big screens, a cracking atmosphere, and some decent pub grub.
Old Broad Street pub Broadleaf is a key player in the contest to lure in the capital’s rugby fans, with a central location and a screening schedule following all 48 matches. Located near Bishopsgate, adjacent to Tower 42, Broadleaf’s menu features American-style fare and stone baked pizzas. Punters can follow every defence-splitting break, back row clear out, and turnover, from kick-off to the final whistle on giant HD screens. Broadleaf is part of the ETM group, who operate nine other sites across London also screening the matches; see their website for more. But a good rule of thumb is to look out for “wood” sites — as in Greenwood, Goldwood, Beechwood and so on — as these tend to be theirs.
Tower 42, 25 Old Broad Street, EC2N 1HN, broadleaflondon.com
Adam & Eve
At the Adam & Eve on Oxford Street, key rugby world cup matches will be shown on the pub’s six HD screens. The Young’s boozer is nestled in the busy area between Oxford Circus and Tottenham Court Road, serving as a sporting oasis in what is otherwise a shopping and commuter hellscape. The food menu features pub classics as well as small plates, with pints and cocktails alike to quench spectators’ thirst.
77a Wells Street, W1T 3QQ, theadamandevew1.co.uk
It’s all going on at this Marylebone pub, which is set for a rugby extravaganza across September and October. Plenty of big screens will make sure you take in all of the matches, while the pub typically puts on live music and celebrity guests in between tournament matches to keep punters entertained.
43-47 Marylebone Road, NW1 5JY, greeneking-pubs.co.uk
For a rather more upmarket experience, head to Brigadiers, an Indian barbeque joint in Bloomberg Arcade, which has a cracking bar to boot. Cheer along with the crowd in Blighters, the venue’s main boozing area, or book out one of three private rooms to create your own private screening event.
1-5 Bloomberg Arcade, EC4N 8AR, brigadierslondon.com
Follow every tackle and try and scrum throughout the competition at The Clarence, just a stone’s throw away from Green Park. Select games will be screened live and in HD from the opening match through to the final on Saturday October 28. The Mayfair watering hole, which is part of the Nicholson’s pub collection (who are screening the matches at many of their sites), specialises in pies too, in case you get peckish.
4 Dover Street, W1S 4LB, nicholsonspubs.co.uk
This Irish bar from duo Aaron Wall and Ciarán Smith will be serving pints of Guinness on match days. As you’d expect, it’s popular with Irish fans, and the atmosphere is typically a friendly one. They’ve got an exceptional cocktail menu as well, and serve up a cracking Sunday roast. Thoroughly recommended.
108 Essex Road, N1 8LX, homeboybar.com
The Narrowboat is a boozer in the heart of Islington with picturesque views of Regent’s Canal and loads of big screens to watch the games on. If you’re needing any more encouragement, the pub is offering a free round of Guinness for groups of four or more who book and dine in.
119 St Peter’s Street, N1 8PZ, thenarrowboatpub.com
The Corner Pin
This Tottenham pub is under the stewardship of Beavertown and serves all their locally brewed pints. Punters can watch the matches on its three screens and enjoy modern pub grub to go along with it: fish and chips, vegan burgers, cauliflower and truffle mac and cheese, and the like.
732 High Road, N17 0AG, beavertownbrewery.co.uk
The Faltering Fullback
No prizes for guessing where this pub’s allegiance lies, once you wander into its couldn’t-be-more-Irish decor. The Fullback has plenty of decent ales on tap, a surprising amount of space given how cosy it all feels, and a menu offering up Thai food too. And, with the likes of guitars, scarves, accordions and aeroplanes hanging from the ceiling, you can always play I Spy if the match is proving to be especially uneventful. You can’t book tables here, so get down early. And beware, it does get very, very busy.
19 Perth Road, N4 3HB, falteringfullback.com
The Hemingford Arms
This Islington watering hole takes rugby as seriously as the maintenance of its floral exterior. The Hemingford Arms will be showing the major games on its big screen, and it even offers the obligatory Thai curry that so often comes with a rugby day out.
158 Hemingford Road, N1 1DF, hemingfordarms.com
The Three Compasses
East London locals will do well to secure a table at the Three Compasses for a game-day viewing topped with one of the epic burgers put together by their resident chefs at Filthy Buns. With two projector screens and a lively atmosphere, the venue touts itself as the best sports pub in Hackney for watching major sporting events.
99 Dalston Ln, London E8 1NH, 3compasses.com
Gibney’s, the basement saloon bar just off the Old Street roundabout, is a top-notch spot for catching a match over some sublime bar snacks from the sister restaurant upstairs, Daffodil Mulligan. With an Irishman in charge — chef Richard Corrigan — you can expect a few compatriots to turn up, although fans of any country will enjoy pints of the in-house stout.
70-74 City Road, EC1Y 2BL, gibneyslondon.com
Skylight Tobacco Dock
Obviously, you’d prefer to be glued to the screen during the matches, but if the action does wane slightly, then it helps to have panoramic city views for entertainment. That’s the case at Skylight’s Tobacco Dock venue, which will be showing the matches on its seven screens, with happy hours and beer jug specials keeping things lively.
Tobacco Dock, E1W 2SF, skylightbars.com
It wouldn’t be a list of spots for match day viewing without a mention of Boxpark. The east London hotspot is opening its doors to rugby fans once more over the world cup as a ticketed event, with the £10 cost redeemable as a food token. Expect pre-match entertainment, guest speakers or performers and a load of street food on offer.
2-10 Bethnal Green Road, E1 6GY, boxpark.co.uk
The Star by Hackney Downs
This east London boozer will be showing all of England’s world cup matches over September and October, plus other key games through the tournament. Book a table for any of England’s fixtures and email in if you’re wanting to nab a spot for any other game, to make sure it’s on their agenda.
35 Queensdown Road, E5 8JQ, starbyhackneydowns.co.uk
The Bedford pub is another lovely spot to swing by. All the matches will be screened on the Balham venue’s 12 ft projector screens. If you’re in a group, they’ve private rooms for hire too.
77 Bedford Hill, London, SW12 9HD, thebedford.com
Flat Iron Square
A trusted open-air choice for rugby fans, Flat Iron Square will be showing all of the matches in the tournament on an array of screens. What’s more, Camden Town Brewery is setting up Camden Clubhouse for the duration of the cup, though specifics on what this entails are scarce. What we do know is that from Cluck Farmyard’s crispy buttermilk fried chicken, to tofu chow mein from Choy House, there are loads of food choices to keep everyone in your group happy, as well as free-flowing booze and pre/post-match DJs.
64 Southwark Street, SE1 1RU, flatironsquare.co.uk
Vinegar Yard, another of the capital’s boozy open-air food markets, will be screening the opening game of the cup on the outdoor screen in the Courtyard Bar, as well as all of England’s fixtures through the tournament. Bad Boy Pizza Society will be serving their ‘za while the bar will be pulling pints and mixing summer cocktails.
78-82 St Thomas Street, SE1 3QX, vinegaryard.london
South east London multi-storey carpark turned street food destination Peckham Levels will be screening all of the world cup games on its five 65 inch screens. Expect drinks packages to wash down some grub from the much-loved street food kiosks, and the venue’s usual lively atmosphere.
95a Rye Lane, SE15 4ST, peckhamlevels.org
Perched on the Thames, this rugby favourite draws in big crowds on game day. Luckily for those wanting a breather from all the excitement, the Ship has an outdoor area with some more tranquil riverside views.
41 Jews Row, SW18 1TB, theship.co.uk
The Cabbage Patch
As the self-proclaimed “most famous rugby pub in the world”, the Cabbage Patch in Twickenham has the perfect energy for match day. The pub is just down the road from Twickenham Stadium and typically empties out during the match when the games are local as punters go to see things in the flesh. However, with the tournament taking place across the pond, the crowds and atmosphere are bound to stay put throughout.
67 London Road, TW1 3SZ, cabbagepatch.co.uk
Famous Three Kings
The Famous Three Kings boasts an impressive 16 screens and will be showing every match of the tournament. The Fulham favourite also offers good pizzas and solid pub grub – perfect if you need something to soak up the match day pints. One of the places you’ll definitely want to book ahead for.
171 North End Road, W14 9NL, crafted-social.co.uk
The Orange Tree
One of London’s few Scottish pubs, the Orange Tree has two drop down screens inside, as well as a 65” screen for those happy to brave the tail end of summer to watch al fresco. They’re big on food here, too, so make a day of it and eat. If you haven’t been, be sure to see what’s on at the Orange Tree Theatre next door, too.
45 Kew Road, TW9 2NQ, orangetreerichmond.co.uk
This Young’s pub is home to one of the best matchday atmospheres west London pubs have to offer. The Wandsworth local has been around for just over 191 years, and has pulled many, many more pints.
499 Old York Road, W18 1TF, almawandsworth.com
Cock and Bottle
Notting Hill pub the Cock and Bottle will be showing each and every one of the Rugby World Cup games, making it the spot for west London’s rugby fans of all persuasions. Order a sharing board or munch on some nachos while catching all the action.
17 Needham Road, W11 2RP, cockandbottlew11.com