A world-class Rugby League team will call Tees Valley its home during the sport’s 2021 World Cup.
Rockliffe Hall and Darlington Mowden Park will play host to an international men’s team, with the players staying at the Darlington hotel and spa and training at the arena less than ten minutes away, for the seven-week tournament.
The news comes following the announcement that the region will also host a game during the major international competition, following a successful bid led by the Tees Valley Combined Authority.
The event could give the region an economic boost of up to £8million, attracting tens of thousands of international rugby fans to the area.
The team coming to the region is expected to be announced in December once the draw and results of the qualifying games are known.
Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen said: “We knew we had a fantastic bid, which was shown when we were chosen to host to part of this contest in February. Welcoming an international team to the region is the icing on the cake and is further recognition of our exceptional facilities and venues.
“The players aren’t going to be locked away behind closed doors training for the entire duration of their stay. The Rugby League’s been clear that there will be an active programme of engagement, with the team working to promote the game in our local schools and communities, helping us to grow the sport.
“They’ll be here for up to seven weeks, spending time and money in the region and boosting our profile across the world. With thousands of fans expected to come from across the globe to follow the action, I’m looking forward to seeing them flood through our airport’s arrivals hall.”
Jon Dutton, chief executive of Rugby League World Cup 2021, said: “RLWC2021 will see nations from all over the world travel to England to compete for the sport’s most prestigious prize.
“We are really pleased to be able to announce which towns and cities will be used as hotel and training bases for the competing nations. Each chosen location submitted a compelling bid and our decisions represent our confidence in each of these towns and cities to provide a world-class host experience to the visiting nations in 2021.
“These chosen hosts will play such an important role in welcoming all teams and nations, offering them a base and helping them prepare in the best possible environment so they can perform at their peak on the pitch.”
Eamonn Elliott, Rockliffe Hall’s chief executive, added: “Our five star resort has everything required to host a team of this quality and we are experienced at hosting big sporting teams, including The All Blacks and Premier League football clubs.
“Our gym, spa and pool facilities are ideal for top athletes and we’re looking forward to becoming home to even more high-profile teams in the future. This is an exciting time for our region.”
The bid was put together by a partnership of the Tees Valley Combined Authority, Middlesbrough Football Club, Darlington Mowden Park RFC, MFC Foundation, Middlesbrough Council and Darlington Council.