The Groundsman

September 2015

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Visit www.iog.org for more information and digital editions 20 the Groundsman September 2015 s the 2015 Rugby World Cup (RWC) organising committee, England Rugby 2015, completed its pre- tournament checks (for transport logistics and 'spectator experience') at the 13 stadia that will host a total of 48 matches in 44 days, it is no surprise that pitch preparations at all stadia and 28 training camps have been in motion for almost a year. Keith Kent, the Rugby Football Union's head groundsman, explains how Twickenham Stadium – the venue for 10 matches including a second Rugby World Cup final - hosted groundsmen from many of the RWC stadium venues last November. These included representatives from football club stadia: Manchester City; Aston Villa; Newcastle United; Milton Keynes; Brighton; Leicester City; Leeds United; and Gloucester. "They attended the England versus South Africa game, after which they went A Elite surfaces for elite players Pitch preparations at the 41 match stadia and training camps for this year's Rugby World Cup started as long as 12 months ago, to ensure firstclass playing surfaces that meet the e_pectations of the world's elite rugIy teams as well as a gloIal T= audience By: Colin Hoskins onto the pitch to inspect the surface – and I'm pleased to say that they were impressed," Keith said. Twickenham, like a number of other RWC stadia, has a Desso Grassmaster hybrid surface – the advantages of which are recognised by a host of clubs, not least many in the football Premier League as well as stadia such as Murrayfield and Millennium Stadium. According to Desso Sports Systems, the benefits are clear! the use of a Grassmaster system can increase pitch usage from typically 200-300 hours a year to about 00 hours, a figure that can increase to around 1,000 hours if grow lights are used. However, not all the RWC match stadia have Desso systems or indeed hybrid playing surfaces combining natural grass and plastic fibres - in fact, only 25 of the RWC games will be played on these surfaces – and certainly fewer still of the training venues. Promoting UK expertise Since that 'introduction' at Twickenham, Keith has addressed groundsmen from both stadia and training venues at educational events around the country, advising how to prepare and present their pitches to meet the demands of the world's elite rugby teams. "With a total of 41 venues it would have been impossible to visit each site, though England Rugby 2015 has enlisted the services of an agronomic consultancy which has visited each site on more than one occasion," says Keith. "The pitches have been inspected for impact testing as well as for their sward colour and density, and rootzone quality. The result, in each case, has been a list of things that may be needed to be done.

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