Belfast Telegraph

UK Website Of The Year

Home Sport Rugby

South Africa happy to take over England's World Cup training base

Published 13/10/2015

A South Africa fan with a painted face poses outside the stadium ahead of the Pool B match of the 2015 Rugby World Cup between South Africa and USA at the Olympic Stadium, east London, on October 7, 2015. AFP PHOTO / ADRIAN DENNIS
A South Africa fan with a painted face poses outside the stadium ahead of the Pool B match of the 2015 Rugby World Cup between South Africa and USA at the Olympic Stadium, east London, on October 7, 2015. AFP PHOTO / ADRIAN DENNIS
Schalk Burger and the Springboks have moved into the luxurious surroundings of Pennyhill Park
Prince Harry (left) meets South Africa's Victor Matfield (second right) and Bryan Habana (right) at a reception at Buckingham Palace to welcome Rugby World Cup stars. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday October 12, 2015. See PA story ROYAL Rugby. Photo credit should read: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire
South Africa's Bryan Habana dives in to bring up his hat-trick
South Africa supporters cheer prior to a Pool B match of the 2015 Rugby World Cup between South Africa and USA at the Olympic Stadium, east London, on October 7, 2015. AFP/Getty Images
South Africa's Bryan Habana and USA's Blaine Scully (above) collide as they go for a high ball during the World Cup match at the Olympic Stadium, London. PA photo
South Africa's head coach Heyneke Meyer (L) arrives for a reception to mark the Rugby World Cup 2015, at Buckingham Palace in central London on October 12, 2015. AFP PHOTO / POOL / JUSTIN TALLISJUSTIN TALLIS/AFP/Getty Images

England's World Cup misery was prolonged on Tuesday after South Africa spoke in glowing terms of the state of the art training facility the failed hosts have been forced to vacate.

The Springboks have moved into the luxurious surroundings of Pennyhill Park in preparation for Saturday's quarter-final against Wales and are benefiting from the artificial pitch and high performance centre built by the Rugby Football Union.

The interior of the facility has been kept a closely guarded secret by England, but details have emerged of a gym equipped to the highest specifications including Red Rose-embossed dumbbells weighing up to 85kgs, a hi-tech sledge pushing device and a row of Smith machines.

A 40m x 40m artificial indoor playing surface is flanked by a line of enormous punch bags, while dominating one wall of the changing room is a giant TV screen.

Inspirational quotes, among them one by Arnold Schwarzenegger, decorate the walls of the building, although these are believed to have been covered up in anticipation of South Africa's arrival.

It was hoped the facility, opened in May last year, would aid England's quest to be crowned champions of their own World Cup, but instead they have failed to qualify for the knockout phase for the first time.

South Africa now have full use of the training base reported to have cost the RFU £3million, while England lick their wounds over their tournament demise that was sealed after a mere 16 days.

"There is irony in us being here and using their training base," veteran flanker Schalk Burger said.

"Unfortunately for them they are not here to use the facility for the full duration of the competition, but that's life and we are happy to take the facility and make full use of it.

"Some of the guys who do gym have been doing weights in the building and they say it's an unbelievable experience.

"It's an incredible place. The media centre is pretty much bigger than my local club back home. It's unbelievable.

"The field is lovely and the weather is playing its part so far in England. The rooms in the hotel are also really nice.

"All the waiters and hotel staff seem to be South African. I have met about four - I think the English staff have gone on leave!"

Prop Tendai Mtawarira, nicknamed 'The Beast', has completed a weights session in the high performance centre and will perform set piece drills on an area dubbed the 'Scrum Garden' by England forwards coach Graham Rowntree.

"I've done weights in there. It's state of the art, the best rugby facility I've trained in," Mtawarira said.

"When we have our scrumming session on Tuesday afternoon, we will experience the Graham Rowntree scrum garden."

Since being stunned by Japan in the biggest upset in rugby history, South Africa have steadily built momentum that means they will start as favourites against Wales.

"This World Cup has been like my career - ups and downs," Burger said.

"We started with the most famous loss in World Cup history against Japan and after that the next two weeks were probably the toughest as a Springbok.

"After the Japan game there was a lot of pressure on us. We had to stick our hands up and be counted.

"We have played knockout rugby for the last few games and we just need to keep on doing what we are doing and I think we will be successful.

"Coming back to win against Samoa and Scotland meant that we had turned the corner, topped our group and we now have a quarter-final against Wales.

"What's important about this group is we have pressed the reset button after we had that loss and now we have to concentrate on winning a quarter-final.

"We have played some decent rugby over the last three weeks which has pretty much been knockout rugby so let's see if we can get through this quarter-final."

How to Complain

If you have a complaint about the editorial content of the Belfast Telegraph or Sunday Life then contact the Editor here. If you are not satisfied with the response provided then you can contact the Independent Press Standards Organisation here

Your Comments

COMMENT RULES: Comments that are judged to be defamatory, abusive or in bad taste are not acceptable and contributors who consistently fall below certain criteria will be permanently blacklisted. The moderator will not enter into debate with individual contributors and the moderator’s decision is final. It is Belfast Telegraph policy to close comments on court cases, tribunals and active legal investigations. We may also close comments on articles which are being targeted for abuse. Problems with commenting? customercare@belfasttelegraph.co.uk

Read More

From Belfast Telegraph