London is filling up with visitors, excited for the chance to watch some international rugby at our National stadia. However, for those who do not have a ticket to watch every match, it seems the ideal time to suggest where the expats and recent arrivals can watch their beloved national teams on the big screens.
Pool A: Australia, Uruguay, Fiji, England and Wales
Where you can take out any pent-up nerves about the ‘group of death’?… I will not dare to suggest venues for the English or the Welsh to watch their beloved game of Rugby, pretty much every local pub has big screens with flags dangling over the door.
Australia: The homesick Aussies have a wide choice of venues to go to. The city is littered with wonderful bars and eateries. The legendary fun and rowdy Walkabout Bar in Shepard’s Bush is an Aussie/Kiwi drinking heaven. While the Elk Bar in Fulham has an awesome selection of cocktails that are 2 for 1 everyday day from 5-8pm.
Uruguay: Almost all of London’s Uruguayan community will be out in force at Zoo Bar in Leicester Square to support their home team.
Fiji: This is harder as there are very few Fijian bars in London. However Bar Kick in Shoreditch is an ideal spot for those from the Pacific. Kanaloa, just off Fleet Street, also offers a tiki-themed entertainment but not quite as sporty as Bar Kick.
Pool B: Samoa, Japan, South Africa, Scotland and USA.
As with the English and Welsh, I would not dare to tell a Scot where to drink, wave the St Andrew’s Saltire and chant the Flower of Scotland.
Somoa: As with Fiji, there are not specifically Somoan bars with big screen action. However, the Grand Union Bars in Brixton, Wandsworth and Camden are fabulous venues which will be showing all the matches. With Tiki tents and a fabulous atmosphere, we are sure you will love supporting your team here.
Japan: London is full of Sake bars and restaurants, however we would recommend that watching the rugby in a traditional London pub, like, The Ship in Wandsworth. Featuring six screens, an outside bar and a riverside view, they are showing every match and putting on a special World Cup menu. Private booths with TV screens are available for hire.
South Africa: The Springboks may not have got off to a great start against Japan, however they are definitely in luck when it comes to venues to watch the Green and Gold. GJ’s in Wandsworth is the home of South African expats in London, however those who want a bite to eat will love Jungle Braai which came about after chef Ammo bu Ray’s spent years learning the art of Braai cooking with the Mbtumbu tribe, deep in the South African jungle.
USA: Our transatlantic cousins will love watching the big screen at Smith & Wollensky in Covent Garden. Possibly the best steakhouse in London, this fabulous venue will give you a taste of home to match your patriotic pride.
Pool C: New Zealand, Tonga, Georgia, Namibia and Argentina.
Kiwis: As with the Aussies, the Kiwis will be aware of the huge antipodean community in London. The appropriately titled Jet Lag bar in Fitzrovia is a favourite haunt with All Blacks fans, while those who want to do a Hakka and have a bite to eat may enjoy Manuka Kitchen.
Tonga: There are plenty of Tiki bars in London for those who need a large rum mixed with something sweet, however if you want Rugby World Cup action, then The Merchant, in Battersea has promised to show the Pacific island nation’s showdowns, along with many of the rest of the matches.
Georgia: While we can recommend places for authentic Georgian cuisines, there are no specific bars which cater for the Georgian community. However The Faltering Fullback in Finsbury Park is a devout rugby pub and will be showing all World Cup games.
Namibia: There isn’t much in the way of specifically Namibian restaurants in London, but the cuisine is similar to South African, so try Shaka Zulu in Camden, the capital’s largest South African restaurant. From there, it’s just a quick dash to Finsbury Park, home of the Faltering Fullback (mentioned above), which is one of London’s proudest rugby pubs.
Argentina: Latin American grills and steakhouses are plentiful in London, alas the majority are not showing the Rugby World Cup, except Smith & Wollensky, which is showing all the matches, and while American have promised to try very hard to avoid bias. If Puma fans just want a good Thames-side sports bar which is not too England biased, try the Number 1 in Tower Hill, which will be showing all the matches live as well and has a very eclectic mix of customers.
Pool D: Ireland, France, Romania, Italy and Canada
Ireland: Irish pubs are so plentiful globally that it would not surprise me to find one inside Tutankhamun’s tomb or on the top of Machu Picchu, next to a Starbucks of course. If an Irishman says that cannot find a place to have a pint and watch sport, check his passport!
France: The French “quarter” of London is located in the strip between South Kensington and Holland Park. Yet when it comes to watching the Rugby there is only one place to go, and that is Soho. The French House lives up to its name and reputation “the best known pub in the world’s naughtiest part of the square mile.”
Romania: There are a few Romanian restaurants in London but when it comes to bars, they are thin on the ground. Little Romania is in the north of the Capital in the Brent and Barnet districts. There will be a number of pubs which will have plenty of Romanians to cheer with. Alternatively, why not try The Greyhound, which is just around the corner from the Romanian Embassy on Kensington Square?
Italy: Quite simply Italy = Soho if you are looking for coffee and a late night snack then there is Bar Italia, I you are wanting to watch the sport, then its Little Italy in Soho. More famous as a footballer fan’s haunt than an Italian rugby lover’s retreat, the patrons and owners of Little Italy are always delighted to show off its strips with patriotic pride.
Canada: If you are looking for “A little piece of Canada in the heart of London” then The Maple Leaf in Covent Garden’s Maiden Lane is definitely the place to go. Bedecked with the national flags, this fun filled oasis for London’s Canadian population will be showing all Canada’s Rugby World Cup fixtures, along with the semi-finals and finals even if Canada isn’t playing.
So there you have it, our round up of fabulous eating and drinking venues with flair, fun and national pride, ideal for those who are passionate about the glorious game of Rugby.