The Groundsman

June 2013

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32 TECHNICAL UPDATE the Groundsman June 2013 Tackling Leeds' new pitch Head groundsman Jason Booth and his grounds team at Leeds Rugby Club saw Headingley's new pitch being built, layer by layer By: Colin Hoskins n 2005, Leeds Rugby Club began looking into the possibility of replacing the Headingley stadium's pitch, which had not been renovated since the undersoil heating was laid in the 1960s. After monitoring the surface and assessing the pros and cons of pitch replacement, it was decided that a complete renovation was required. I Pitch design The new pitch was designed to be crowned, with the pitch centre raised 20cm above the edges, to help aid drainage. In addition, 80mm lateral drains were laid at 4m intervals, with 160mm collectors being installed around the perimeter. Four inspection chambers were also built into the design to allow easy access to the drainage system for monitoring and maintenance purposes. Once drainage and foundation work was completed, a 150mm layer of gravel was added to the existing subsoil as the basis for the all- important upper layers. Following the installation of the gravel, sand and rootzone layers, more than 26 miles of undersoil heating pipes were laid. The responsibility for choosing the best product and supplier for the upper surface level fell to head groundsman, Jason Booth, who has worked for the club for more than 13 years. "When the time came to replace the pitch, the grounds team was able to advise on the options available and which we believed would be most suitable," he says. "With both Leeds Carnegie and Leeds Rhinos playing regular games here, as well as the pitch being used for small concerts, community games and occasionally as a car park for cricket matches, we needed an exceptionally durable surface. After researching the different choices on the market we concluded that an artificial, or semi-artificial, pitch would not be right for our needs. However, we did feel that a fibre-reinforced surface would be able to withstand anything Visit www.iog.org for more information and digital editions we threw at it, which is why we chose Fibresand from Mansfield Sand. We also visited Manchester City FC and spoke to them about their Fibresand pitch and saw how it was managed." Fibresand, a fibre-reinforced rootzone created by Mansfield Sand, is an 80/20 blend of MM45 medium grade silica sand and topsoil mixed with polypropylene fibre. It features stabilising and free draining properties, and custom-made blends of the reinforced rootzone can vary both the sand/soil and the fibre content which means clubs can have a tailor-made rootzone to suit specific requirements. More than 2,000 tonnes of MM45 sand was used to create a 150mm layer sand bed on top of the gravel, and 1,000 tonnes of the rootzone was laid beneath the 40mm thick mature reinforced turf an option the club chose for a rapid finish. Grown by County Turf, the turf took months to produce; growing this off-site gave the club a usable pitch from the start of the season.

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