Durham University’s huge sporting programme is set to expand still further this autumn with the unveiling of its second 3G synthetic turf pitch. The Rugger 65 pitch, laid alongside the first one installed in 2009, boosts Durham’s capacity to stage college, community and national fixtures across rugby, football and lacrosse.
Sport England has match-funded the 3G facility under a performance partnership that will see Durham deepen its involvement with community sport under a mission to extend the University’s prominence and outreach throughout grassroots and top-flight sport.
Dean of Experience Durham Peter Warburton specified SIS Pitches for the second Rugger 65 facility, which includes floodlighting, perimeter fencing and dugouts, after witnessing major success for its first 3G pitch, which has created a sporting hub for clubs, the community and elite squads.
Working under Senior Project Manager Ian Tubman for both 3G schemes, Will Roberts, the university’s Projects and Technical Assistant for the Estates and Building Department, said:
The second 3G pitch is going to be tested to IRB and FIFA Gold Star standards, allowing top-flight rugby and football, as well as lacrosse, to be played on it. The design and build engineering package that SIS provides has proved to be very efficient, bringing plenty of betterment value to the pitches and site as a whole.
Durham’s first Rugger 65 rubber crumb full-size floodlit facility has become one of the most intensively used pitches in the country and the university expects the latest installation to emulate that level of use. Durham is now ranked second only to Loughborough in the league table of British university sports provision, running 34 rugby teams, 36 hockey sides and 66 football (23 of those, women). Warburton said:
The new Rugger 65 pitch will enable us to stage match back to back games from 9am to 8pm throughout the weekend, as well as every lunchtime and evening in the autumn. Meanwhile, clubs and squads can use the 3G pitches on weekday mornings and afternoons.
Phil Blackwell, Director of SIS Pitches, said:
Demand for synthetic surfaces for rugby is set to grow strongly. Saracens is showing the way forward (the Aviva Premiership champions chose the Rugger 65 surface for its Allianz Park new home earlier this year). Over the next ten years, the future for rugby will be on mostly synthetic surfaces.
Serving a 15,000 student body, Durham also runs two full-size synthetic hockey pitches, eight natural turf rugby pitches, innumerable football areas and four cricket squares (one all-weather).