The Groundsman

August 2016

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IOG BEST PRACTICE 25 the Groundsman August 2016 This started in March, which meant we were effectively carrying out major renovations in the middle of winter and with rain hammering down!" The 3G carpet was replaced with a Desso iXDNA surface. Also, the running ramp used for sprint training had to be removed to widen the playing area, which meant that 260 tonnes of hard core had to be removed, graded and grown in. While all this was going on, Leeds University kindly hosted the first team squad's training and, says Ryan, "our thanks are also due to the university's grounds team including James, Gawaine and Jess". Pitch renovation This year's renovation programme for the stadium's fibresand pitch has been 'blessed' by a 27-day break between events – compared to the usual 17/18 days. "It's been a good three years since we've had the window to be able to undertake a major pitch renovation," says Ryan, "and now, with the black layer down to 35-40mm, it was time for a good 'clean out'. We'll Koro off the surface, ameliorate 160 tonnes of fibresand into the profile, level, overseed, then apply fertilisers and bio stimulants, among other things." Even with almost four weeks grace, however, the pressure will be on to have the new surface 'grown in' in time for the new season. But Ryan openly admits that he's never been afraid to give the pitch whatever it needs to ensure that it is ready, and can withstand, the rigours of events. In the height of the rugby season this can see weekly union (Yorkshire Carnegie) and league games (Leeds Rhinos) being regularly staged on Friday evenings and Sundays, plus training sessions in between. In addition to different markings, Ryan and company also ensure a couple of other subtle differences between playing surfaces for the two codes of rugby; they seek to achieve Clegg hammer readings of 100/105 for union games and 80/85 for league, while sward height is targeted at 36mm for union and 30mm for league. Proactive and reactive "I always try to be very proactive with the pitch," he says. "And as long as I know that certain products will not harm the surface, I have no scruples about adding different fertilisers and bio stimulants, for example, to give me what I want. I'm not afraid to move out of my product comfort zone and put something on it and see if it works! In another example, concerning Friday night games one year, we were suffering heavy dew and the ball effectively became as slippery as a bar of soap. I contacted ICL [Ryan uses a lot of ICL products] for the company's dew- dispersal product – used it and it worked immediately, resolving a problem that was having an adverse effect on the game. "In addition, I talk to a lot of people – groundsmen at other venues and not just rugby clubs – because I reckon that basically we're all in the same boat and we can all learn from each other's experiences." Ryan will use such networking advice when the latest phase of building work at the stadium is complete. "We're currently re-routing the irrigation and undersoil heating to accommodate what will be a new south stand. This, however, will create shade problems on the pitch and we'll need lighting rigs to combat that. We've currently got small rigs for the scrummage areas, but the new stand will mean we'll need full-size sets." The next phase of the stadium development will see the north stand being reconstructed. It must be made clear, however, that Ryan does not apply 'new' products in a willy-nilly fashion. "Of course, the application of any product or task completion is all about timing. We learnt that with our cutting when growing pitches in, for example, cutting at first leaf stage only once with a rotary mower (instead of several cuts with a rotary) then using a cylinder, then alternating with rotary and cylinder cutting which bruised the leaf quicker and that in turn helped to thicken the sward faster than usual." Thorough planning With such a small team of guys charged with looking after both the stadium and the training ground, Ryan points out that he regards thorough planning as a major benefit. "We make a plan and we stick to it, so that everyone knows what they need to do and when," he adds. "That said, we do also have to be very reactive, to the actual condition of the playing surfaces on a day-to-day basis and to what's happening with the weather." Heavy rain caused the River Aire to burst its banks and put the training ground under water t Visit www.iog.org for more information and digital editions

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