Twickenham Stadium
The 2006 Challenge Cup Final

Ground No. 8
Visited - Saturday 26th August 2006
Result - Huddersfield Giants 12-42 St Helens
Competition - Powergen Challenge Cup Final
Attendance - 65,137

Long before I had started to get into Rugby, Twickenham was a venue that I had wanted to visit, so when it was announced that the 2006 Challenge Cup Final would be played there due to Wembley still not being ready, then I jumped at the chance, and ordered tickets a few months in advance. The one dilemma was choosing where to sit, as with the South Stand still being built, and only the lower tier open, then it presented me with the choice of sitting in the open with the threat of rain, or looking out at a building site! In the end, for the purposes of better pictures, I decided to choose the South Stand and sit amongst the Leeds or Huddersfield fans (depending on who won in the semi-finals).

Having visited Odsal in July to see the semi-final match, it was Huddersfield who had pulled off a shock, and beaten Leeds, thus booking themselves a place in the final for the first time in 44 years with a well deserved 30-12 victory.

When the day came around, I left early, catching the train from Wolverhampton down to Banbury, where I had to change to get another train to London Marylebone, passing the half completed Wembley on the way down there. We arrived in London at about 11am, and after a quick tube journey down to Waterloo, I was soon on a local train heading down to Twickenham itself, joined by quite a number of people by now all making their way to the ground as well.

After getting out of Twickenham station at about midday, it was good to see the streets already full with fans and all the associated sights on a big day such as souvenir stalls selling mementos! I walked up towards the ground, not taking too long outside, before going in at about 12:30pm. Once inside, I was able to walk all around, as the turnstiles/perimeter gates are set some distance back from the edge of the stands themselves, with fans using the space to spread out and enjoy the good weather to drink before the game started. Having gone around the outside, I eventually went into the seats and found where I was due to be sitting. As mentioned, I was in the South Stand, which was quite interesting, as the lower tier had been built, but above and in the concourses, it was still a building site, with good progress having been made, but still a long way to go. I was sitting on the very back row, which was just under the overhang of the partly built second tier, so there was at least some cover, with the view not being restricted at all. To our left was the West Stand, which was a huge three-tiered stand (all-seated of course), and had executive boxes at the rear of the lower tier. The stand was mirrored opposite in the East Stand, which curved round at the North end of the ground to create a huge bowl, which will be finally completed once the South Stand is finished, being built in the same style.

As the crowd built up towards kick-off, it became apparent that most people around me were Leeds fans, presumably having bought tickets in advance, expecting to see their own team in the final! But despite having been knocked out by them, there was a clear decision to show Yorkshire solidarity and support Huddersfield over St Helens.

With Saints leading the way in Super League, and generally beating everyone they played, it was expected to be an easy win for them, but like at Odsal, the Giants ripped up the form book, and from the off really went at St Helens. With just six minutes gone, they took the lead when De Vere and Aspinwall worked well down the right with Aspinwall going over in the corner. De Vere converted to give the Giants an early 6-0 lead. Huddersfield really seemed to dominate the opening 20 minutes, but it didn’t take long for St Helens to get back into it when Willie Talau went over, with his effort being converted by Jamie Lyon. It looked like Saints would then go on to take the lead, but for a last ditch tackle from Paul Reily on Ade Gardner as he was flying down the wing. It didn’t take them long to get away again though, with some excellent passing between Lyon and Gardner, who got it out to Sean Long who was able to run in to make it 10-6, with Lyon adding the two just before half-time.

If the first half had been an end-to-end match with both sides on an even keel, then the second half couldn’t be more different. St Helens totally dominated, winning with ease in the end. Jon Wilkin and Maurie Fa'asavalu went over to make the score 24-6 thanks to Lyon’s conversions, before the Aussie got a try of his own, followed up by Wilkins' second before Huddersfield could reply with a Robbie Paul effort. St Helens had the last word with Jason Cayless going over in the 73rd minute, and Jamie Lyon making it an easy 42-12 win for the Saints, to eventually give them the silverware.

Despite the first half having a good atmosphere, with the way Saints killed off Huddersfield in the second half, it meant that the mood in the South Stand had dropped a bit, giving it a bit of a disappointing feel in the end, but with the match over, I eventually made my way over to the West Stand to try and get some better pictures of the trophy presentation, before finally leaving the ground, and making my way back to central London, where I spent a few hours before heading home.

Overall, it had been a pretty good day. Twickenham is a fantastic stadium, and should look great when it’s finished with the South Stand complete, but just for the occasion, even if it did go a bit sour at the end, the Challenge Cup Final was worth going to, so I can certainly see myself going back next year, wherever they decide to hold it in the end!

Outside the West Stand

Statues on the West Stand Gates

Rear of the West Stand

Rear of the North Stand

Rear of the East Stand

The Rugby Store

Outside the East Stand

Rear of the South Stand

Rugby House

The North Stand

The West Stand

The South Stand

The East Stand

The South Stand

The East Stand

The East Stand

The North Stand

The West Stand

The Teams Enter the Pitch

Lining up for the National Anthem

Ready for Kick Off

Huddersfield take the lead

It wasn't to last!
St Helens crowned as Challenge Cup Winners

Twickenham Panoramic 1

Twickenham Panoramic 2


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