England head north

England have decided to swap Portugal for Leeds ahead of the RBS 6 Nations. [more]

England head north

England have decided to swap Portugal for Leeds ahead of the RBS 6 Nations.

Interim head coach Stuart Lancaster has revealed that England will not be heading abroad like they did under former boss Martin Johnson but will instead train at West Park Leeds RUFC, Lancaster’s home club.

The switch is part of Lancaster’s plans to reconnect the England senior squad with grassroots rugby but is also designed to boost preparations for a difficult trip to Murrayfield to face Scotland on February 4.

“There are a variety of reasons we wanted to use a different venue centred around wanting to keep the camp in this country. By keeping it in England we can create a 'new' feel to the camp, in what is a new start” said Lancaster, whose team will train at West Park between January 23 and 27.

“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.

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“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.”

Lancaster has spoken repeatedly about his desire to seek the views of those outside rugby union as he looks to restore some lost pride in the England shirt following a controversial World Cup campaign.

Recruiting those personalities from other walks of life is another key reason why he and his assistant coaches Graham Rowntree and Andy Farrell have opted against heading overseas prior to the start of the 6 Nations.

“This is an opportunity to bring people in from outside of rugby to talk to the players about what it takes to be elite and what it means to play for England,” added Lancaster.

“We would find it difficult to bring those outside speakers in if we were abroad. One of the talks will be about how to create elite sport and we hope to have Dave Brailsford and Hugh Morris from cycling and cricket coming to that.

“The other will be about what it means to play for England and what it means to go and fight for your country, so we've got a guy who's been to war and Jamie Peacock, captain of the England rugby league team, who is a fantastic role model and highly respected in his code.

“Hopefully, it will help create that sense that 'this is a very privileged place to be'. What I'd like to is make sure we end up reconnecting with the game.”

England will only be based at West Park for one of their 6 Nations training camps, with the other camps during the tournament taking place at Pennyhill Park. The Surrey complex has been England’s official home since 2008 having first been used by Sir Clive Woodward prior to the 2003 World Cup, although England’s current agreement with the hotel concludes at the end of the current season.

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