August Rugby Diary 2011

Laurence Gale MScin Rugby

To be fair we have had a really good growing period this summer, with plenty of sunshine and warm weather and more recently plenty of rain to promote grass growth.

Regular mowing, at least weekly, is essential to improve the condition of the pitch. Too many clubs tend to leave the grass to grow far too long, often in excess of 100mm in length, before cutting.

So, when it finally gets cut, you are left with a pitch resembling a farmer's field ready for bailing. This, in turn, causes more problems in that these arisings have a detrimental affect on grass growth and the aesthetics of the pitch.

Regular cutting and feeding will encourage the grasses to tiller and thicken at the base, giving you a better quality sward for play.

Early in the Month 1st - 15th August

Continue to cut the grass, do not be afraid to invest in some fertiliser, yes it will make the grass grow and it comes at a cost, the more growth you can get the better, regular cutting will thicken the sward and help produce a better pitch.

Make use of the recent wet weather, it will stimulate growth and activate the fertiliser products.

Later in the Month 16th August - onwards

Generally, August sees the start of pre-season matches. The focus will be on mowing and preparing the turf surfaces for play. Grass heights will vary depending on the type of mowers used, however most will be looking to maintain a height of cut between 25mm and 75mm.

Line marking, check your stock of materials, do you have enough paint / marking fluid to initial mark your pitches?

Also, check your line marking machine is fit for purpose, give it a good clean and check all working parts and ensure the nozzles are clean on spray jet markers.

Key Tasks for August
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Particular attention should be made to irrigation regimes, for those who have access to water, ensuring that all areas are watered uniformly to promote healthy growth. Make sure that divoting takes place straight after play finishes, because divots will dry and die very quickly in the hot weather.

Irrigation will be a priority, especially if maintaining newly sown or turfed areas. It is important that these areas do not dry out and die. It is important to ensure that the water gets down into the rootzone to encourage deep rooting. Allowing areas to dry out can lead to problems of dry patch, a condition that prevents water infiltration into the soil, thus forming areas of non-uniform turf quality.

Inspect installations for leaks.

Useful Information for Irrigation

Articles Products
Irrigation for sports turf
Travelling Sprinklers
concord marking

Pre-season training will be well underway, with club coaches demanding marked out areas for practices. Ensure you have enough marking materials and an efficient, quality line marker for carrying out these tasks.

Check with the sports governing body (RFU) for any amendments to the laws and markings of the pitch. Care should be taken when initially marking out new lines, ensuring that they are true, straight and measured correctly, using the 3,4,5 method to achieve accurate angles.

There are a number of marking machines available on the market, wheel to wheel, spray jet, dry liners and aerosol markers. The choice will be dependent on cost, area to be marked and the type of line you want.

The following four points are essential requirements to help achieve accurate line marking:

A reliable, accurate line marking machine

Appropriate, approved marking fluid

Careful planning and preparation (setting out lines)

Time and care

Useful Information for Marking

Articles Products
I walk the line!
Line Marking Equipment

New linear aerators now offer alternative methods of aeration to the traditional solid tine spiker and hollow core spiker, which can install a continuous slit 10mm wide 200mm deep at 200mm centres. The machine has also been upgraded to infill with kiln dried sand.

Useful Information for Aeration

Articles Products
Why Aeration?
Machinery Spares, Blades, Cylinders & Tines
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Maintain sward height at 25mm-75mm; the top height will cushion heavy falls on any hard ground. Frequency of mowing will increase to maintain sward height as soil and air temperatures initiate grass growth.

The choice of mower will generally be dependent on budgets available, coupled with your particular requirements. Most stadium pitches tend to keep to ride on triples and pedestrian Dennis or Ransomes 30"-36" type mowers.

There is also a need to keep up with other forms of mowing to control the grass around obstructions and fencelines.

Useful Information for Mowing

Articles Products
Facts about mowing
Football Pitch / Rugby Pitch Grass Seed
Fertilising and Brushing
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Fertiliser treatment and turf tonics can 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 summer N P K fertiliser, perhaps something like a 12:0:9 to maintain grass colour and vigour. A slow release fertiliser could be applied to see you through August and September. The choice of materials and how well they work will dependent on factors such as soil type and weather, with moisture and air temperature being the catalyst for growth.

Brushing: To remove dew and remove surface debris. Using a brush or a SISIS quadraplay will restore levels and produce striping or banding aesthetics.

Useful Information for Fertilising and Brushing

Articles Products
Plant Nutrition - food for thought
Granular Turf Fertilisers
Other Tasks for the Month
  • Pre match inspections: To include pitch surface, line markings and posts. Keep heavy wear areas roped off to stop unwanted early use. In an ideal world the pitch should be completely out of bounds. Tidy up the edges of the pitch, strim around advertising signs and crowd barriers. Presentation on the pitch will be let down badly by unkempt edges.

  • Post match renovation: To include replacing divots and repairing worn areas (scrummage/lineout areas). Aeration will relieve compaction and brushing will help keep the sward standing up right. Apply some topdressing materials to restore levels if required.

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