World class facilities for World Cup stars

SPOTLIGHT ON: Tamara Taylor, left, and Katy McLean at the Darlington Arena Picture: ANDY LAMB

SPOTLIGHT ON: Tamara Taylor, left, and Katy McLean at the Darlington Arena Picture: ANDY LAMB

FUTURE'S BRIGHT: From left, at the rugby announcement, World Cup winner Tamara Taylor, Mowden coach Danny Brown, Debbie Jevans, chief executive England Rugby 2015 and World Cup winner Katy McLean with the Webb Ellis trophy at the Darlington Arena Pict

FUTURE'S BRIGHT: From left, at the rugby announcement, World Cup winner Tamara Taylor, Mowden coach Danny Brown, Debbie Jevans, chief executive England Rugby 2015 and World Cup winner Katy McLean with the Webb Ellis trophy at the Darlington Arena Pict

SECRET BASE: Rockliffe Hall Hotel, near Darlington

First published in News
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THE lush green pitch at Mowden was just one of the factors in the club's successful bid to be named as an official team base for the rugby World Cup.

An indoor training barn at Middlesbrough FC's training ground in Hurworth is part of the package, along with nearby five-star hotel Rockliffe Hall.

A confidentiality policy means the hotel has declined to confirm the All Blacks' visit, but it is understood the squad will be staying there during their time in the region.

Rockliffe Hall chairman Warwick Brindle said: "Obviously, we don’t comment on individual guests staying at Rockliffe Hall due to our customer confidentiality policy.

"However, what we will say is that it’s great news for the region that the All Blacks have chosen Darlington as a training base.

"Yet again it gives us a fantastic opportunity to showcase the outstanding facilities that this area boasts, following the success of the Tour de France and our own involvement in the European Senior Tour English Senior Open held at the weekend.

"It also gives people in the North-East even more of a reason to get excited about the rugby World Cup in 2015.”

Mowden coach and arena manager Danny Brown promised the All Blacks a warm welcome.

He said: "We will welcome them as only we know how in the North-East, hopefully show them a good time and we wish them the best in the World Cup."

New Zealand manager Darren Shand said the squad hopes to soak up some local culture at each of their three bases during next year's tournament.

He said: "The All Blacks are looking forward to coming to England and Wales next year for rugby World Cup.

"We will be based in London, Cardiff and County Durham at the tournament and, while preparing for our matches will be key, we are also looking forward to experiencing the local culture in each of the areas."

Among those to have backed the announcement are Mowden's own World Cup winners Katy McLean and Tamara Taylor.

Both were members of the England team that beat Canada to win the women's World Cup earlier this month.

Ms McLean said: "At a World Cup, the training base has got to be of high quality. For us, that made a massive difference and was something we got right as a team.

"It's going to be massive having a team such as New Zealand here, but it's also about what we can provide for them and creating something that everybody can be part of."

Mowden is one of 41 team bases confirmed by the tournament's organisers on Tuesday.

Others include training facilities in Newcastle and Gateshead.

Newcastle will host the Tongan national team at Northumbria University, while Scotland will use the facilities at Royal Grammar School, Newcastle.

Gateshead International Stadium and Gateshead College’s Academy for Sport will be a base for South Africa and Samoa.

Debbie Jevans, chief executive of World Cup organisers England Rugby 2015, said it was important the bases are as good as they can be.

She added: "A team spends more time training at a team base than competing on the field of play.

"Each base has to have facilities that meet an international standard."

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