Premiership Grounds focus: Worcester’s Sixways Stadium

Sixways Stadium

Worcester’s Sixways Stadium is a familiar sight in the Midlands, especially when entering the city of Worcester from the M5 motorway. The gold letters contrasting against the deep blue seats, spelling out ‘Warriors’ make it easily recognizable.

The history of Sixways Stadium

Sixways Stadium has a shorter history than most Premiership grounds. The official opening of the site happened on September 4, 1975. Before this Warriors played at Bevere, an area in Worcester, where they operated five senior sides and two colts’ teams.

The home of Worcester gained its name due to its location. The stadium is accessed via junction six on the M5 motorway which splits into six directions.

It was the arrival of Cecil Duckworth onto the scene which changed Worcester’s fortune. The founder of Worcester Bosch, a heating manufacturer, became executive chairman of the club and offered a significant investment into the struggling side. A £1.3 million lottery grant was awarded in 1998 which Duckworth also supported. A stadium was erected on the grounds of the old third team pitch and clubhouse as a result.

Embed from Getty Images

In 2006, the club announced it’s £23 million plans for a stadium revolution. The following years saw the addition of a new road system enhancing accessibility to Sixways, a car park with space for 1,300 cars, new training facilities and improved infrastructure of the stadium.

Gym company, David Lloyd announced they would be opening a new facility at Sixways in 2012. The gym occupies the area behind the East Stand and next to the main entrance. This is recognizable by its glass-fronted reception and club shop.

The most current renovations to the stadium came in 2016. Sixways became the latest ground to switch to an artificial grass pitch. They joined Saracen’s Allianz Park and Newcastle Falcon’s Kingston Park in capitalising on the latest technology. However, Sixways is the only site to use organic infill rather than rubber crumb on their pitch.

Best recent matches at Sixways Stadium

2018/19 – Worcester Warriors 21 Bath 19

Embed from Getty Images

This game was memorable for many reasons. Bath ended the game with 11 men and no front-row. The match ran on into the 100th minute and Worcester secured a much-needed victory. Bath lead at half-time but things went bad from there; a red card saw Ross Batty leave the pitch on the 64th minute. However, Bath’s biggest sanction would come after the 80 minutes were up. Errors from Max Lahiff, Lucas Noguera and Aled Brew saw them sent to the sin-bin. As a result, Bryce Heem was able to draw his side level with his 97th-minute try. Duncan Weir held his nerve and slotted a successful conversion to claim the memorable victory. Read more of Worcester’s memorable moments from the 2018/19 season here.

2014/15 – Worcester Warriors 30 Bristol Bears 30 (59-58 aggregate)

Worcester beat Bristol in a close Championship play-off final to return to the Premiership after a year out. Worcester won the first leg away at Ashton Gate 29-28. They came back from 30-16 down in the second leg, to draw the game level at 30-all. The final five minutes of the game at Sixways proved crucial. Warriors scored twice and Ryan Lamb secured the last kick of the game. The combined scores meant that Worcester secured promotion and their return to the top-flight.

The future: What’s next for Sixways?

Despite quite recent building work, there has been further mention of Warriors turning their 11,499-seat stadium into one with a 20,000 capacity.

In 2008 Warriors General Manager Charlie Little said: “At the moment, Gloucester can hold around 16,000 whereas Leicester have 16,500 but have plans in place to increase that over the 20,000 mark.

“We believe we can deliver that and we won’t be resting on our laurels. Our new traffic systems would allow a maximum attendance of 20,000 and that is our target within five years.” (Worcester Warriors, 2008)

However, his wish has not yet been achieved. Worcester have had a nervy few seasons at the bottom of the Premiership table and fighting off relegation. They have also experienced a decrease of 25.4% in attendance of their opening three games compared to ten years ago. Their average of 6,357 people is nowhere near filling their current stadium capacity, let alone one with 20,000 seats.

However, it is not to say it won’t happen in the future. Worcester work to establish themselves in the Gallagher Premiership and build upon their finishing position of 10th from last season. They already have a strong following, and will increase their attendance through winning games and moving further up the table.

Worcester’s Sixways Stadium

It’s accessible and central location has seen Sixways hold many events, including non-rugby affairs. The ground also houses 60 meeting rooms, restaurants, a food village, a multitude of bars and corporate boxes. As a result, there is always something going on in the stadium, even during the off-season.

The ground prides itself of being the host of corporate, professional and sporting dinners and auctions as well as action-packed shows and live concerts.

Sixways has held three LV Cup finals (now known as the Premiership Cup) and some U20 6 Nations fixtures.

Worcester can pride themselves in having a modern stadium, with state-of-the-art training facilities that are equipped to house them and their visitors comfortably for decades to come. It will remain an attractive central hub of action for both sporting and non-sporting people alike.

“Main Photo:”
Embed from Getty Images