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At its meeting last month, the RFU Council approved a £57m (US$86.4m, €78.5m) strategy to invest in Artificial Grass Pitches (AGP), which will see 100 artificial, floodlit pitches installed across the country over a four-year period.

This is a significant capital investment, which will fund two types of pitches in locations across the UK to ensure maximum access and rugby participation:

  • 60 on rugby club sites to be used by the host club and other local clubs, enabling games to be played and training to be maximised
  • 40 on community sites with a guaranteed number of hours for use by rugby

While there are close to 700 AGPs in England, rugby can be played on less than 10% of them due to the others not complying with the World Rugby specifications for build and performance, which includes criteria such as ball bounce, head impact and carpet joint strength. Of the 10% that are usable, less than 10 are currently located on community rugby club sites.

The major driver for installing artificial pitches is to sustain and grow participation in the game against a backdrop of increasing pressure on natural turf pitches, changing player expectations, competition from other sports investing in artificial pitches and changing weather conditions.

Over the past four years, RFU data shows that wetter winters are having a serious impact on the rugby season, resulting in more games and training sessions being cancelled. In February 2014, 1,766 adult games were lost over two weekends due to bad weather and over 600 natural turf pitches remained unplayable for three weeks afterwards.

Steve Grainger, RFU Rugby Development Director, said:

With changing expectations and aspirations it is clear that rugby, like other sports, needs to provide playing surfaces that meet modern requirements.

Following Rugby World Cup 2015 there has been an upsurge in interest in rugby, not least from aspiring coaches, referees and young players, and this is an exciting opportunity to further develop our community rugby facilities.

The project will get underway with an initial six of the 60 rugby club pitches aiming to be operational by September 2016.



DFB squad celebrates victory over host’s Canada on Polytan|STI synthetic turf pitch

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Ahead of the 7th Women’s World Cup in Canada in 2015, the German DFB selection travelled to Vancouver to take part in an international friendly match against the Canadian national women’s team. This offered a welcome opportunity for the German squad to test the strengths of the host country and the local conditions. The team reported back top quality facilities at BC Place Stadium; the venue for the match and showcase stadium for the Women’s World Cup Final in 2015.


Since 2011, matches at the multipurpose BC Place Stadium have been played on a Polytan LigaTurf RS+ system, which seemed fitting with the German connection.


In a thrilling and lively match, the team of coach Silvia Neid managed to secure a 2:1 (1:0) win over host Canada. After a balanced opening, Lena Lotzen put Germany in front in the 29th minute. Not long after the second half began, Sophie Schmidt pressed for the equalizer and defeated the German goalkeeper, Nadine Angerer, with an unsavable lob in the 53rd minute. Following a foul on Lena Lotzen, Simone Laudehr scored the match-winning goal for the 2:1 win from the penalty spot in the 65th minute.


After the successful test match, Germany’s women’s national football team can look forward with confidence to the upcoming Women’s World Cup in 2015. And, with its Polytan|STI turf in place, BC Place Stadium is prepared for its hosting of next year’s tournament.


Thanks to the special design of the turf fibres, the LigaTurf RS+ is particularly robust and resilient, which is why it is also used for football at the stadium. The synthetic turf is easy to maintain and retains outstanding playing qualities, even after years of intensive use. After almost three years at BC Place Stadium, the turf remains just as playable as it was at the beginning, in fact, FIFA has honoured the pitch with the highest award for synthetic pitches, the FIFA RECOMMENDED 2-Star certificate, for the third time in a row.


Durham University unveils second Rugger 65 3G pitch

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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).