Cutting it at Cambridge

Tony Hawkinsin Rugby

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Imagine being there when, in 1823, William Webb Ellis, a pupil at Rugby School, picked up the ball and with "a fine disregard for the rules" ran forward with it.

Rugby Union was born and quickly spread from public schools to universities.

Cambridge University Rugby Union Football Club (CURUFC) was founded in 1872 and the first Varsity match was played in that year at Twickenham.

The club is a wholly amateur student rugby club, yet one which aims to offer a rugby environment that is as 'professional' as possible.

Three regular teams play: the Blues, the LX club and the U21 XV. The club has a great tradition of touring and also attracts internationals to their facilities.

Grounds Manager David Hurst, a groundsman for thirty years, captains the team responsible for maintaining the high standard of pitch requirements, with the main pitch hosting eighty to ninety games a year.

Traditionally the club had used triple gang cylinder mowers and would probably have continued to do so when David spotted a Wessex roller mower.

He gave it little more thought until dealers Pecks of Ely suggested a demo of a Wessex RMX 180.

Having never considered a rotary as a finishing mower David was initially sceptical and then surprised at the result.

First there was the cost, at half the price of what they had traditionally bought. Then he was impressed with the speed and the exact cut height of 1" to 1½" as required.

Using mulching blades proved to have added benefits in cutting costs on fertiliser, as much as £500 a year, an important consideration in an area as dry as East Anglia.

"Equally," says David, "going from a gang to the RMX 180 has cut down the time cutting the main and training pitches, saving as much as a day's work when we're cutting two or three times a week."

He was surprised as well by the fact you can take the grass down to 1" even if it's damp, and the mower doesn't lump. "Other groundsmen come up to me and ask what kind of cylinder mower are you using? When I tell them it's a rotary, disbelief turns into a whole conversation about the Wessex."

David is impressed too by the ease of operation, minimum maintenance and servicing and, as he puts it, the way it's built like a tank with bullet-proof construction.

Whilst he uses a grinder to sharpen the blades and greases the rollers once a week there is little else that's needed.

He adds they have also seen an exceptional saving on fuel costs, using the RMX behind a 27hp Kubota. And the future? Maybe a move to a bigger tractor and larger Wessex tri-deck, but for now they are happy with their purchase.

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