ENGLAND boss Stuart Lancaster will prepare his troops for their RBS Six Nations campaign with pre-tournament training in Leeds.
The England team will use facilities around the North Leeds area, including West Park Leeds RUFC - a Level 8 Yorkshire Division Two club - and weights facilities at the Leeds Rugby Academy, at Kirkstall, during their January 23 to 27 camp as they prepare to defend their title.
England have spent their January training week in Portugal for the last three years and while they will still be based at Pennyhill, Surrey, during Test weeks, former Wakefield RFC player and Kettlethorpe High School PE teacher Lancaster believes the switch in venue will be beneficial.
He said: “There are a variety of reasons we wanted to use a different venue centred around wanting to keep the camp in this country.
“The main objectives of the camp are to spend some time together, building the team, reviewing the World Cup but more importantly working together on setting our goals for the Six Nations and beyond and getting on the same page with our rugby game plan.
“By keeping it in England we can create a ‘new’ feel to the camp, in what is a new start.”
The former Leeds Carnegie player and director of rugby added: “It will allow us to train in conditions that we will be facing up at Murrayfield, create opportunities for the team to stay connected with the public, and allow us to invite in one or two people from outside of rugby to help us shape our future.
“All the players have come through grassroots rugby and, with excellent facilities at West Park Leeds and the availability of local facilities and provision for poor weather options, Leeds was the best fit when we considered all the options.
“Hopefully it will also give a boost to rugby in the north and help in developing the game in the area.”
RFU director of rugby development Steve Grainger said: “Clubs are at the heart of rugby in this country and it’s fantastic that England are going to train at one which is thriving like West Park Leeds.
“Stuart has talked about the team connecting with the wider rugby community and this move shows that commitment.
“I am sure it will not only be a great experience for the England players and the club but a boost for rugby in the north as well.”
England will stay at Pennyhill Park for the first ‘fallow’ week (February 13) but move to a different venue for the second one (February 27), the venue for which will be announced in due course.
Read Friday’s Wakefield Express for more of the latest rugby union news.