A LEADING international rugby league team will be calling the Tees Valley its home during next year's World Cup, it can be revealed today.

Rockliffe Hall and Darlington Mowden Park will play host to an international men’s team, with the players staying at the hotel and spa and training at the arena less than ten minutes away, for the seven-week tournament.

The news comes following the announcement that the region will also host a game during the major international competition, following a successful bid led by the Tees Valley Combined Authority.

Mayor Ben Houchen said: "Welcoming an international team to the region is the icing on the cake and is further recognition of our exceptional facilities and venues.

“The players aren’t going to be locked away behind closed doors training for the entire duration of their stay. The Rugby League’s been clear that there will be an active programme of engagement, with the team working to promote the game in our local schools and communities, helping us to grow the sport.

“They’ll be here for up to seven weeks, spending time and money in the region and boosting our profile across the world. With thousands of fans expected to come from across the globe to follow the action, I’m looking forward to seeing them flood through our airport’s arrivals hall.”

The Northern Echo:

Mayor Ben Houchen with the World Cup Trophy

The team coming to the region is expected to be announced in December once the draw and results of the qualifying games are known.

Jon Dutton, Chief Executive of Rugby League World Cup 2021, said: “Each chosen location submitted a compelling bid and our decisions represent our confidence in each of these towns and cities to provide a world-class host experience to the visiting nations in 2021.”

Eamonn Elliott, Rockliffe Hall’s Chief Executive, said: “Our five star resort has everything required to host a team of this quality and we are experienced at hosting big sporting teams, including The All Blacks and Premier League football clubs. Our gym, spa and pool facilities are ideal for top athletes and we’re looking forward to becoming home to even more high-profile teams in the future. This is an exciting time for our region.”

Lee Rust, Darlington Mowden Park’s Managing Director, said: “There has been an enormous amount of work going on behind the scenes over the past five years to position the Darlington Arena as a venue that can attract this kind of occasion.

“Following on from the success of hosting the New Zealand All Blacks during the 2015 Rugby World Cup this will represent another global competition that has chosen Darlington and the Tees Valley. Working with key partners we are again delighted to have the opportunity of bringing world-class sporting activity to our region.”