The Groundsman

September 2015

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Visit for more information and digital editions 22 the Groundsman September 2015 marker machine. Rigby Taylor's Duraline Stadium paint has also been selected to be used exclusively at all RWC tournament training bases and match stadia in the run up to and during the event itself. Ian is also responsible for the club's training pitches and the hedges and verges that surround it, though he does admit to cajoling club members to help lend a hand for certain tasks. The training ground is particularly well-used – 20 teams have access to it – and the playability problems encountered on the heavy, solid clay pitches when he took over have since been minimised, thanks to the advice of Rigby Taylor's technical representative Jamie Applegarth, who suggested the installation of a soil by-pass system. The training pitches had a drainage system built into them, but because there was so much clay on top, water couldn't get to the drains. In the first season after construction, they weren't played on at all due to water sitting on top. The answer was to completely by-pass the clay that sat between the surface and the drainage system. Sand bands were cut at 1m centres and these went into the centre of the existing drainage system. Then 200 tonnes of sand was added to the surface before seeding. "Combined with the soil by-pass system, the annual addition of sand and a programme of aeration/spiking does help. Although the real test will be when the All Blacks are here. Then we'll see if my preparations for this year have paid off¹ Darlington Mowden Park Rugby Club's selection as the New Zealand squad's training camp for the All Blacks' preparation for the 2015 RWC has given Ian Dunnabie, head groundsman at The Northern Echo Arena, the ideal opportunity to renovate the pitch. "The stadium – formerly owned and occupied by Darlington Football Club – was taken over by Mowden RFC in 2012 and for the previous five years the pitch had only been overseeded and dressed by hand," says Ian. "As part of the build-up to hosting the All Blacks, the plan of action has been centred on Koro-ing then applying a 70/30 sand mixture before overseeding with 18-20 bags of Rigby Taylor's R14 which offers rapid establishment and a high tolerance to wear and disease, plus gives all-year-round colour. "The All Blacks will only be here for five days' of training - and while it is stipulated that the pitch must have a four-week rest period before their arrival, which will create a slight headache with club fixtures - their presence at the ground has meant I've been able to treat the stadium pitch in the ideal way, albeit while continuing to work within a very tight budget. Rigby Taylor supplies a host of products to the club, in addition to the R14 seed - Convert and Microflow fertilisers, plus the Magnet Rapide liquid iron and the Impact XP line marking paint, applied through the i.6 Mini spray line Darlington groundsman prepares for the All Blacks Ian Dunnabie: "I've been able to treat the pitch in an ideal way" Risk assessment – another job for the grounds manager 6ne aspect of being a training camp for a RWC squad that may not attract the headlines is the time and care involved in the use of a nitrogen-cooled 'cryo chamber' – a piece of equipment for the cryotheraphy process that exposes the athletes to temperatures of up to -160degC for short bursts, to effectively replace the use of an ice bath for muscle regeneration and immune- system stimulation. At the University of South Wales' Sports Park, which hosted the Italian team for seven days early in September, grounds manager Les Gibbs (left) and his team not only had to cope with the workload of providing first-class training surfaces for the Italians but Les was also heavily involved with the comprehensive risk assessment process that surrounded the delivery, installation and use of the 'bath' – in this case a sizeable 12m long by 3m wide pool. "Because liquid nitrogen was used, one of the main areas of 'care' concerned the fact that this could not be allowed to enter the water course at any time – not only during installation but also, of course, during its use since when players entered and exited the bath then some of the contents may have spilled," he says. "In addition, there had also to be due care and attention paid to the storage of the bottles of nitrogen. "The answer was to position the bath on the ground's car park surface, as near to the training pitch as possible but in an area where there was no risk to the water course," said Les.

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