April Rugby Diary 2005

Laurence Gale MScin Rugby

April Rugby Diary

By Laurence Gale


April is generally the last month of the playing season, with most clubs finishing their playing season by May 1st. However some clubs do run seven-a-side tournaments that can run beyond May.

Pitches may be showing signs of heavy wear, particularly from scrummages and line out play. These areas invariably lose grass cover, but this season has been made worse due to the wet periods experienced during late November and early January. Some Groundsmen will, if time and resources are available, overseed these areas during April while there is sufficient natural moisture in the ground for seed germination. However, many are not able to do this until the season has finished.

April is also a good month for carrying out any aeration works, especially while there is sufficient soil moisture to allow deep penetration of the tines. The ground will soon begin to dry out reducing the opportunity for deep aeration without surface disturbance. There are a number of different methods for aerating rugby pitches. With both the vertidrain and earthquake machines becoming the most popular machines used. Deep aeration is a key maintenance operation to reduce soil compaction.

Increased soil and air temperatures will have stimulated grass growth, increasing the need to mow on a more freqmurryfield-2005-012.jpg

April is also a good month for applying spring and summer fertiliser products. Ideally it is a good practice to undertake at least an annual soil test to analyse the nutrient status of your soil. This will help ensure you only apply what is required and do not waste money and time applying products you do not need.

Fertiliser treatment and turf tonic can then be continued in accordance with your annual programme. If you haven't got a fertiliser programme, have your soil tested; try an independent soil analysis company for an impartial set of results.

Most grounds staff will be applying a spring / summer N P K fertiliser, perhaps something like a 9/ 7 / 7 which will effectively get the grass moving during April, then towards the end of April early May applying a slow release fertiliser to see you through June / July. However the choice of materials and how well it works can be dependant on many factors, including soil type and the weather, with moisture and warmer air temperatures being the catalyst for growth.

Tasks detailed can be undertaken within a limited budget. Local conditions and circumstances will need to be taken into account. If any members are undertaking any specific work not detailed, please let us know by adding a comment in the section below the diary.

There are still many clubs who do very little in the way of maintenance, mainly through the lack of budgets and knowledge of what to do.

April tasks for Rugby





When conditions allow

Hand or machine aeration to aid surface drainage, (varying depths of penetration to prevent the development of a soil pan).

Brushing / sweeping

Daily / weekly

To remove dew and remove surface debris. Using a brush or a SISIS quadraplay will restore levels and produce aesthetically pleasing stripes.


Daily / weekly

Keep an eye on fungal disease attack, and use approved fungicides to treat infected areas.


Immediately after game

To repair scars and surface damage.



Inspect drainage outfalls, channels and ditches. Ensure that they are working.

Frost and snow

As required

April weather is generally still very unpredictable, usually resulting in April showers of rain, even sleet and snow. Keep people and equipment off playing surfaces when covered in frost and snow.

Harrowing / raking

When conditions allow

Helps to restore levels and keep surfaces open.

Irrigation equipment


Inspect installations for leaks. There may be a need to irrigate during any renovation programmes, as air temperatures and day light hours are getting longer, increasing the likelihood of the ground drying out.

Litter / debris

Daily / Weekly

Inspect and remove debris from playing surface, this will include litter or any wind blown tree debris.

Machinery (Repairs and maintenance)

Daily / Weekly

Inspect and clean machinery after use, service and repair damaged machinery immediately.


As required

To maintain winter sward height. Frequency of mowing will increase to maintain sward height as soil and air temperatures begin to rise initiating grass growth.

Post match renovation

After matches

  • · Replace divots
  • · Repair worn areas (scrummages / worn line out areas)

Pre match inspections

As required

  • · Inspecting pitch surface and line markings
  • · Checking post safety

Seed bare & worn areas

When conditions allow

Seeding of sparse or bare areas can be carried out; the rise in spring temperatures will help germination. Use germination sheets to aid this process but remove the sheets regularly to check for diseases. Remember that without good seed to soil contact the operation is useless.

Ensure you use new seed, as old material may not give you the required germination rates.

Soil tests

Ideally once or twice a year, or as required.

If not already done, April is still an ideal time to obtain a soil analysis of the pitch. Measure for soil Ph, nutrient levels and organic matter content, which are seen as good indicators of the condition of the soil. Once you have this information you will be in a better position to plan your seasons feeding and maintenance programmes.

Top dressing Sand / rootzone materials

As required

Localised spreading of top dressings to repair divots and scars of turf surface.

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