8 Oct 2015

All Blacks quiet over five-star digs

10:07 am on 8 October 2015

OPINION: I knew all I needed to about the All Blacks' accommodation this week when I walked past the Aston Martin Vanquish on my way into their press conference.

The All Blacks warm up in Darlington.

The All Blacks warm up in Darlington. Photo: AFP

While most of us travelling media are staying in the humble north-eastern town of Darlington, the World Cup holders are camped a few miles away at Rockliffe Hall - the only five-star resort in the north of London.

The palatial estate, which dates back to the 18th Century, is owned by Middlesborough Football Club owner Steve Gibson, with the team's training base on site.

Rooms start at around $NZ400 a night and the complex also has a spa and the longest golf course in Europe - facilities that I'm sure the team will have enjoyed on their day off (sadly I didn't get the call-up to tee off with the boys to make up a four-ball).

Even veteran players like Jerome Kaino, who has stayed in his fair share of five-star hotels throughout his career, was impressed and said it was the flashest place he's stayed at with the team.

All Blacks management seems keen to keep the talk of the luxurious nature of their digs to a minimum - presumably aware of the New Zealand public's tendency to be turned off by anybody who's seen to be too flashy or showing off.

Rockliffe Hall is the only five star resort in the north of London.

Rockliffe Hall is the only five star resort in the north of London. Photo: RNZ/ Alex Coogan-Reeves

Rockliffe Hall

Photo: RNZ/ Alex Coogan-Reeves

It's a far cry from the typical New Zealand club player's experience of a rugby trip, when sleeping on the floor of a local marae or being billeted is common.

Obviously all the five-star luxury in the world won't win them the World Cup and some fans may see this as overly extravagant, but I'm not sure what they would prefer, especially when World Rugby is picking up the (rather large) tab.

Should the team have booked into the local Travel Lodge? Or perhaps tried the youth hostel in Darlington city?

The George Hotel's claim to fame.

The George Hotel's claim to fame. Photo: RNZ/ Alex Coogan-Reeves

As for me, I may not be able to walk straight out of my hotel onto one of the country's top golf courses or enjoy a full pamper session at a luxury spa after another hard day on tour, but my accommodation here in the North-East does have one significant claim to fame.

Located in the village of Piercebridge on the outskirts of Darlington, the George Hotel is the birthplace of the grandfather clock, named for a song written by an American songwriter who stayed there in the 1870s. The song is about the infamous clock that still stands proudly in the lobby of the George today.

The more you know!

Alex Coogan-Reeves is a seasoned sports journalist, rugby nut and globe trotter. He will be following all the action around the UK and giving those of us who are stuck here an insight into what 's going on over there.

Between The Posts will run throughout the World Cup on radionz.co.nz

Between the posts - Alex Coogan-Reeves

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