Favourite escapes of the England Rugby players

By Harriet Cooper

Travel writer and editor

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November 2018

The England Rugby players have travelled all over the globe, but where sticks in their mind? We ask some of them for their favourite destinations


According to… Abbie Scott, lock

Canada is a country that’s as diverse across its cities as it is its landscapes. There’s dynamic Toronto, French-speaking Montréal and Québec City, west-coast film centre Vancouver, and capital city Ottawa. But for a dose of western hospitality, head for Calgary where soaring skyscrapers may be the product of an oil boom, but cowboy boots are still the norm (go in July for the annual yee-hawing Stampede). The city is also the jumping-off point for the Canadian Rockies, known as nature’s adventure playground.

For a dose of western hospitality, head for Calgary where soaring skyscrapers may be the product of an oil boom, but cowboy boots are still the norm

Abbie says: “Canada is amazing, especially on the outskirts of the Rockies. We went there to play the USA, Canada and New Zealand in Calgary, Edmonton and Red Deer. That was special because I’d played the season the year before in Edmonton, so it was almost like a home game with all the support. Being able to show the other girls around was great because I was familiar with the area. The weather was wonderful as well.”

  • Hong Kong’s Victoria Peak is home to the city’s most iconic viewpoint

    Climb every mountain

    A seven-minute journey and the most direct route to Victoria Peak, the Peak Tram is the world’s steepest funicular railway.

    Catch a flight to Hong Kong
  • Outdoors enthusiasts should head to Canada’s Lake Louise © Getty

    Verdant plains

    Apart from its Instagram-worthy lake and mountain views, adventurers can enjoy sledding, hiking, and skiing in and around the surrounding mountains.

    Fly to Canada
  • Portugal’s Algarve is the prime place to relax and refresh © Getty

    Swing low

    Golf fans are more than catered for along this stretch of coastline, with more than 30 courses on offer.

    Explore the Algarve


According to… Owen Farrell, fly half and centre

Mauritius, located in the middle of the Indian Ocean, has long attracted those seeking palm-fringed beaches and luxury resorts, especially post-wedding. But this tiny island nation isn’t just for honeymooners; its crystal clear lagoons, calm sea and year-round tropical climate make it extremely family-friendly. The snorkelling and scuba-diving is superlative, while landlubbers can spend their days playing golf, trekking through lush forest and soaking up the rich colonial history and local culture.

Owen says: “I’m heading to Mauritius soon and I can’t wait. Especially when the cold sets in, I like to get away to some sunshine and a beach – it’s good to force yourself to just sit and switch off sometimes.”

New Zealand

According to… Lydia Thompson, winger

Anyone familiar with the Lord of the Rings cinematic trilogy will be well-acquainted with the jaw-dropping beauty of New Zealand. Volcanoes, glaciers, fjords, waterfalls… outdoorsy types will be in their element. Nowhere more so than Rotorua, where the steaming geysers, crystal-clear streams and magical forests are only part of the story - this is also the heart of Maori culture. City slickers will enjoy Auckland, Christchurch and Wellington - each has its own unique charm, but all are worth exploring.

Lydia says: “When we were in New Zealand a few years ago, it was such a fantastic experience. I get bored spending too long on a beach, so I loved the variety that it has to offer and the scenery, of course."

  • The Rocky Mountains are home to more than 100 peaks, accessible by horseback, on foot or by car © Getty

    Peak performance

    With its glistening lakes, ice-capped peaks and remarkable wildlife, the Rocky Mountains attract close to three million people each year.

    Experience Canada


According to… Ben Youngs, scrum half

Read any guidebook about Portugal and one of the first things it’ll mention is the warmth of the Portuguese. No wonder they’re happy: this is a country with a temperate climate, abundant fresh seafood and a fortified wine that’s famous the world over. While many make a beeline for the golden beaches of the Algarve, the capital Lisbon is a must for its cobbled streets, cafés and culture. But don’t forget pretty Porto, which entices travellers with its mix of old-school character and cooler-than-thou hangouts.

Ben says: “I was in Quinta do Lago in Portugal with my family – there are some stunning golf courses there. Though I spent the majority of my time in the pool playing with the kids, as most dads have to do on holiday!”


According to… Sarah Hunter, No. 8

The United States… a country on such a scale, it ticks every box. There are the exhilarating hubs of LA, Las Vegas, Chicago, Miami, and New York City. Then there’s the 12,000 miles of coastline (driving along California’s shore-hugging Highway 1 is a must). And, in between, vast swathes of desert, prairie, mountain and canyon. The National Parks are ideal for a wilderness fix. Many, like the Rocky Mountain National Park, a short drive from the Mile High City of Denver, offer hiking, biking, camping and riding.

Sarah says: “We went on a summer tour to Denver, which was absolutely incredible with all that scenery and the Rocky Mountains in the background. In our time off, we went white water rafting and drove around the mountains. It’s a lovely place to get to see.”

Hong Kong

According to… Maro Itoje, lock

The first thing that hits you in Hong Kong is the skyline; the neon-lit skyscrapers towering above the island are worth the trip alone (for the best vantage point take the Star Ferry across Victoria Harbour). But it is also a city proud of its cultural heritage. Explore the bustling seafood markets and the Taoist temples, before stopping at a dai pai dong for steaming noodles. For greenery, take the tram to the Peak for breathtaking views of the urban jungle below.

Maro says: “I’m really keen to get to Hong Kong – I’m a sucker for southeast Asian food and I’ve heard it’s a lot of fun, especially during the Rugby Sevens.”