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South Africa benefit from termination of England's World Cup dream

Arnold Schwarzenegger provides one of the quotes inscribed on the walls of England's state of the art training centre now being occupied by South Africa.

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 machine and a row of Smith exercise 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 decorate the walls of the building, although these are believed to have been covered up in anticipation of South Africa's arrival.

Schwarzenegger is the origin of one, saying: "Strength does not come from winning. Your struggles develop your strengths. When you go through hardships and decide not to surrender, that is strength."

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 South Africa 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!"


From Belfast Telegraph