MOWDEN Park Rugby Club are hoping to bring the All Blacks to Darlington during next year’s World Cup.
The Northern Echo Arena has been included on a list of 65 approved training bases for the World Cup teams, which will be trimmed to 20 in the summer.
It is just over a year since Mowden moved into the 25,000-seat arena, the biggest rugby stadium in the country outside Twickenham.
Arena manager Danny Brown said: “The All Blacks have first choice and we are expecting them to send someone like their fitness and conditioning coach to look us over. Then they will decide.
“One of the benefits of the Arena is that it offers completely private training. But we would hope to use the visit in some way to inspire the next generation of players.”
The All Blacks are scheduled to play Tonga at St James’ Park on October 9 and the other two matches at Newcastle United’s ground involve Scotland, who face South Africa and Samoa.
Any of those countries could opt to base themselves in Darlington, probably staying at Rockcliffe Hall, who are involved in the bid.
“Every venue has to work with a hotel,” said Brown.
“Among the facilities we have to provide are a swimming pool, a gym and indoor and outdoor training facilities.
We can meet all those.
“We are also liaising with the local council to see how we can work together and they are fully on board with us.”
Although the list of 65 bases has not been published, it is believed that the only competition for Mowden in the region could come from Gateshead International Stadium.
Meanwhile Mowden are hoping to attract a big crowd on Friday week for the England Counties XV match against Irish Clubs. The private hospitality suites have sold out but platinum hospitality is still available, priced at £12 to include the match ticket. Details are available on 01325 350267.