Popular RFU Head Groundsman Keith Kent visits 100 clubs in a year

Tim Marksin Rugby

KeithKent RFU2
Popular RFU Head Groundsman Keith Kent is celebrating a bloomin' good century - after travelling the length and breadth of England to visit a record 100 rugby clubs over the past year.

Keith, who is responsible for maintaining the lush green grass of England's Twickenham Stadium, has been sharing his years of experience with each club he visits to help them develop their own maintenance programme.

The Twickenham pitch is world renowned as a playing surface of the very highest quality and Keith and his team hope their personal visits are helping to improve the quality of rugby pitches throughout England. Their travels have taken them from North Shields RFC in Northumberland to Avon RFC in Bath, as well as to two clubs in Guernsey.

Keith said: "I am absolutely delighted that we as a team have achieved such a great number of club visits. I do so enjoy my time at every club and the obvious impact that we, as a team, keep making.

"We do work some daft hours and dig holes in pitches whilst players are training around us under floodlights but really what else would we sooner be doing? I have been to every corner of the land, I would like to thank everybody for their support."

The impact of Keith's ongoing travels were never felt more keenly than in the aftermath of the floods that ravaged much of the country last year. In this period, he visited nine clubs in three days to offer support and advice on how to get their pitches back in use.

His support has been especially valuable at Weybridge Vandals RFC, who saw all four of their playing areas flooded - in a managed policy to protect local housing that saw their precious pitches left as a giant lake for weeks after the rest of the flood water had receded. All four have now recovered and are in full use.

"This is an on-going project, if we can help we will, we are fully aware of the unique challenges clubs have to face," added Keith.

Keith's support for grassroots clubs is backed by RFU Facilities Investment Manager Ross Baxter, who believes it is having a significant impact.

"The RFU's Pitch Improvement Programme is making a real difference to the quality of pitches throughout England," he said.

"The direct support Keith can give to clubs means they can deliver more matches and training sessions and an improved playing experience, all of which are crucial to the retention and growth of players. Clubs also see a direct return on their investment with less postponements and increased income improving their overall financial sustainability."

RFU Club Facilities Technical Manager Ted Mitchell added: "This was truly a phenomenal effort that will have a massive impact on the community game. Having the head groundsman of the national stadium visit so many grassroots clubs is an initiative that we believe is unique in world sport."

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