Newcastle Falcons wing Zach Kibirige says the Darlington crowd are in for a feast of tries and running rugby when the Premiership Sevens is held there a week on Saturday.
The town’s Northern Echo Arena rode to the rescue in staging the event with the Falcons’ plastic pitch still being laid at Kingston Park, Yarm native Kibirige confident the country’s biggest dedicated club rugby venue will provide a fitting stage.
The winger, who will miss around a month of the Premiership season after breaking his leg, said: “The Falcons are lucky enough to have a big catchment area and we have fans from all over, but for the guys down in this neck of the woods it means they can come and support the team without having an hour’s journey each way.
“I came to watch Darlington Mowden Park’s final league game and their promotion play-off match and I have also played here once for Yarm School in preparation for our Twickenham final, which was a great experience.
“It is a fantastic stadium, it will be a great venue for the sevens and I have been enjoying Mowden’s rise.
“It means the North East has three teams in National One now with Blaydon and Tynedale and shows the strength of rugby in this area.”
The tournament pits 2011 winners Newcastle against Leicester Tigers, Sale Sharks and London Welsh in games of 14 minutes each, the top two clubs qualifying for the finals at the Twickenham Stoop on Friday, August 8.
Kibirige added: “Some might say sevens is a more exciting version of the game, given the poor weather and slog 15s can sometimes become in the winter, and for supporters in and around Darlington it is fantastic.
“We are not just viewing it as part of pre-season, and we are definitely taking it seriously.”
Joining Kibirige at the launch in the 27,500-capacity venue was Mowden Park flanker Talite Vaioleti, part of the side which won promotion to the third tier of the English club game in May.
The Tongan said: “Hosting the sevens is a great opportunity for us to show we can stage these big events, as we did with the England Counties game earlier this year when more than 4,000 fans turned up.
“There is a demand within this area to watch top-class rugby and the players of all these great clubs will enjoy the experience of running around at the arena.”
With plenty of buzz about the upwardly mobile club the former Jersey, Rotherham and Wharfedale man added: “It is an exciting time for Darlington Mowden Park with the ambition and facilities we have, but we are just taking it step by step.
“If we finish in the middle of National One in our first season there then we have had a decent campaign, but we will just give it a good go and see what we can achieve.”