Long-serving Harlequins prop Mark Lambert takes an in-depth look at what playing at Twickenham is like.
Saturday 28 December 2019 will see the return of Big Game.
A yearly tradition, Big Game sees South West London Rugby Union club Harlequins play a regular season game at Twickenham stadium instead of their usual home at Twickenham Stoop.
Now in its twelfth year, the forthcoming Big Game will see Harlequins face off against Leicester Tigers in what is sure to be a tight clash in front of a bumper crowd at the 80,000 capacity home of England Rugby.
For the first time ever this year, Big Game features the Harlequins ladies team who will face off against Leinster immediately after the completion of the men’s match.
One person who probably knows more about Big Game than anyone else is Mark Lambert, the veteran Harlequins prop who has played over 230 games for the club since his debut in 2004.
Here in his own words, Mark explains just exactly what makes the event so special.
Big Game is a rugby experience that stands out in the noise of life as a professional player.
Our job is a privilege that is never taken for granted, and to take the field in a Quins shirt is very special. However, when you play significant matches every weekend for 9 months of a season, over a number of years, it can become challenging to see them each as unique and memorable events. Big Game is unique and memorable.
For any player who has been lucky enough to be part of the Harlequins squad for the last twelve years, it is a fixture sitting large on the horizon from the beginning of the season. It breeds excitement, it is part of the family Christmas routine, it is a chance to play at the iconic Twickenham stadium.
From the moment you arrive at The Stoop before the game, the atmosphere feels different to a normal match day. You see the fans in Quins colours arriving early and making their way over to English rugby’s HQ. As you set off to walk with your teammates to your home for the day, your route is lined by supporters just as excited as you are.
Entering the stadium you appreciate this day is so much more than just a rugby match and is the culmination of months of work from hundreds of people. In the West Fan Village at Twickenham, there are games and activities for the children and the whole family as well as live music, food and drink. Then the players leave the party, in through the lion gates and into the inner sanctum of the changing room.
The noise and activity of the joyful supporters rumbles on outside as the anticipation builds in the historic changing room. Out for warm ups and a brief flavour of what is to come then back in as a team for the final few moments of superstition and preparation.
A few moments in the tunnel and then out into the explosion of fireworks and sensory overload. Deafening noise, thousands of flags, over 80,000 fans and a game to be won. What better place to run out than Twickenham under floodlights.
The game is worth the same amount of points in the table as every other game in the season but a regular season game it is not. It stands out, it is special. It means just as much to the players as it does to the fans. I am excited just talking about it. Bring on Big Game 12!
Harlequins take on Leicester Tigers in Big Game 12 on Saturday 28 December 2019, with kick-off scheduled for 16:30.
Last remaining tickets for Big Game 12 are available now through Ticketmaster.co.uk