FIVE NATIONS' CHAMPIONSHIP: National homes: How the grounds for this ye ar's championship are shaping up for the future

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Stadium TWICKENHAM Capacity 59,000

First International 15 January 1910 England 11 Wales 6

Potted history: Originally 10 acres of market garden, bought in 1907 for the RFU for £5,572 by Billy Williams, a Harlequins full-back. Then known as "Billy Williams's cabbage patch". Was apt to flooding until banks of River Crane were built up. In 1969 Peter Hain, now a Labour MP, was carried off during an anti-apartheid pitch invasion of England v South Africa match. First streaker was Michael O'Brien in 1974; Erica Roe followed in 1982.

Redevelopments and future: South Stand was constructed in 1981, and in past five years the rest of the stadium has received a total face-lift. The North Stand was completed in 1991, the East Stand in 1993 and the 25,000-seater West Stand will be finishedin November. Already huge, will be breathtaking when its 75,000 capacity is complete.

Types and stereotypes: Home fans in uniform of Barbours and Timberland boots come for pre-match drinks and eats in stadium car-parks, the biggest public school reunion of the year.

Audience participation: Do sing: "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot" and "Jerusalem". Don't sing: "The Red Flag".

Tickets: £12-£33, available only through rugby clubs or schools.

Facilities: Best loos of the lot. Two 45-metre bars in the East Stand claim to be the longest in Britain.

Stadium: Cardiff Arms Park Capacity: 52,554

First international: 12 April 1884

Wales 1DG 2T Ireland 0

Potted history: Formerly property of Cardiff Cricket Club, became the sole Welsh international venue in 1954 after four clubs, Swansea, Llanelli, Newport and Cardiff, had staged internationals. Original North stand was completed in 1935 and hit by bomb in 1941. Until 1967, when redevelopment started, the pitch was an appalling swamp which some sides threatened not to play on. The Pope has also sold out here.

Redevelopments and future Stadium has stayed horseshoe shape because of problems in getting planning permission to develop the East Terrace. This is likely to change, boosting capacity and helping the WRU's bid to stage the 1999 World Cup final. Two architects' plans have already been seen. Suggestions of rebuilding out of town are viewed as heresy.

Types and stereotypes Thousands of short, squat types probably reminiscing about the Seventies. Celebrity fans include Max Boyce and Neil Kinnock.

Audience participation Do sing: "Cwm Rhondda" and "Land of My Fathers". Don't sing: quite the way they used to.

Tickets £8-£24, available only through rugby clubs or schools.

Facilities Generally poor, but worse pre-1967 when urine from North Stand loos would shower on the terrace below.

Stadium: Murrayfield Capacity: 67,500

First international: 21 March 1925

Scotland 14 England 11

Potted history Youngest of the Five Nations' stadia, formerly the ground of the Edinburgh Polo Club. Held record Five Nations' crowd, 104,000, in March 1975 (Scotland 12 Wales 10) when many left midway to escape the danger and discomfort and watched the match on television. David Bowie and the Pope have also each packed out the ground. Undersoil heating was installed in 1991 and broke down three weeks ago.

Redevelopments and future The East Stand was built in 1983, the North and South Stands, which were completed in 1993, slope downwards to meet it. The West Stand was completed last autumn. Now a stunning stadium and idiosyncratic because of the slope of the roof. The top of the West Stand offers fine views over the city.

Types and stereotypes Eclectic crowd: kilts tend to come out more for away trips. Celebrity fans include Princess Anne and Ronnie Brown, co-writer of "Flower of Scotland".

Audience participation Do sing: "Flower of Scotland" (first sung officially before match against Fiji in 1989). Don't sing: "We are the champions".

Tickets All tickets £22; can be bought by postal application.

Facilities Strict on no drinking: closed-circuit cameras help stewards evict the tipplers.

Stadium: Lansdowne Road Capacity: 51,442

First international: 11 March 1878

Ireland 0 England 2G 1T Potted History: The oldest major ground of the modern era, first used when the IRFU paid a £5 hire-fee for the use of it. Pitch originally ran from east to west rather than north to south as it does now. Now also used for Republicof Ireland football internationals. However, it is the poor relation of the five stadia and, as planning permission for it to expand and improve is proving a problem, its days look numbered.

Redevelopements and future: The future appears to be a 65,000-seater stadium which a private company is planning to build, with a hotel, indoor arena and casino, in west Dublin. Assurances are required: that the IRFU has a long-term future there, that the Irish government will contribute £48m costs and will change the gaming laws to permit the first Irish casino.

Audience participation: Do sing: "Molly Malone" and, a worrying trend since the 1990 football World Cup, ""Here we go...". Don't sing: "God Save the Queen".

Types and sterotypes: Probably the most inebriated fans of the lot. A crowd which crosses all social and class divisions. Terry Wogan can often be spotted in crowd.

Tickets: £11-£22, available only through rugby clubs or schools.

Facilities: Poorest facilities of the lot, though the home crowd seems to have failed to notice.

Stadium: Parc des Princes Capacity: 49,711

First International: 1 January 1906

France 8 New Zealand 38

Potted History: Too small a venue in its original form and, from 1919 to 1973 (when it was overhauled), internationals were played at Colombes, home of Racing Club and the 1924 Olympics. Two years ago, Parc des Princes had to consult Wembley turf doctorsas the grass would not grow. The ground is also home to French first division football club Paris St Germain.

Redevelopements and future: A dinosaur of a venue which cannot get planning permission to build higher and will therefore soon be consigned to history. In the future, internationals will be played at the new and bigger Grande Stade in Saint-Denis which will completed for the 1998 football World Cup final.

Types and sterotypes: Bandas - Basque groups who come with trumpets and congregate behind the posts. Also on show: plenty of Brits in town for "business", and a cockerel or two.

Audience participation: Do sing: but tend to shout, mainly "Allez les Bleus" and "Ole" after trumpet blasts. Don't sing: the "Marseillaise" enthusiastically as many deem it politically incorrect.

Tickets: £6-£30, available only through rugby clubs.

Facilities: Only stadium where smoking is not forbidden. Poor access despite not being far from the city centre.