The Groundsman

February 2016

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IN ACTION 42 the Groundsman February 2016 Visit www.iog.org for more information and digital editions In action A selection of groundscare products in use 'in the field' Prestigious school on the hunt for pitch award thanks to RBT As the birthplace of rugby football in 1823, Rugby School in Warwickshire has a tradition of being at the pinnacle of sports education and hosting prestigious events. Head groundsman, James Mead has a lifetime of experience developing and maintaining top tier sporting facilities and is currently responsible for over 20 natural and artificial sports pitches from the renowned rugby pitch and cricket squares to tennis, hockey, polo, soccer and Lacrosse. In addition to the pupils educational activities, the school also plays host to a number of commercial events including Warwickshire County Cricket team, Northampton Saints and Leicester Tigers rugby teams. The 2015 Rugby World Cup also brought televised showcase events including the Argentina and New Zealand Rugby teams visiting the hallowed grounds. Headmaster Peter Green sees the potential to grow from producing county level players to internationals on the sports circuit and key to those ambitions is providing world class sporting facilities. That's a lot of people to impress, protect and put on a show for, something which James is particularly eager to achieve. As he points out: "We are only custodians for a short period of time, but if we can raise the bar here for the next 20 years the school becomes a more attractive proposition and can realise it's ambitions." Pitch maintenance James has a continuous development plan in operation looking as far ahead as 2018 including a new Dutch hockey pitch which has a vastly reduced water requirement but comes at a cost of £750,000 to the school. With such big investments in mind, James has to maximise the life of every surface in line with the bursar's budget. Algae is the number one enemy, finding its way onto all kinds of materials from overhanging branches or shaded areas and he's spent years looking for an answer. James points out: "Warm and wet conditions contribute to a major increase in algae, moss and aspergillus niger, especially on all weather surfaces. It's a huge problem when you consider the cost of construction, upwards of £200,000. Add the numerous other artificial facilities plus the thousands of users, and it is vital that a practical, efficient and cost effective solution is put into place at sports venues across the UK." Once someone slips on a surface through negligence then the surface is deemed unsafe. The consequences can be significant, from claims against the school to cancelled events and members not renewing. Having seen the consequences, James has instilled a mantra of treating equipment when new and following regular maintenance treatments thereafter. Part of that regime had to be an algaecide and after a lifetime of fighting algae and a shedload (literally) of products to try, James discovered RBT247, a product he now believes has solved his algae nightmare. It's five benefits covering safety, hygiene, longevity, cost and time saving have enabled James and his team to develop an easy maintenance routine and get on with bigger projects. "We've used it on all our artificial surfaces, PVC, canvas, Perspex, galvanized posts even wood - spray anything that's brand new with RBT, and it stays brand new," says James. James is considering entering The Best Artificial Pitch award at this year's IOG Awards and knows the level of competition he'll face. "What makes RBT different is that it is a specialised fluid and it is more efficient, more environmentally friendly, safer and the pitch can be in use again shortly after," he added. As for the birthplace of rugby, games will continue to be played 'with a fine disregard for the rules of football' thanks to the forethought and expertise of James Mead and his team.

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