September Rugby League Diary 2004

Laurence Gale MScin Rugby

September Rugby League Diary

By Laurence Gale MSc


September for most rugby league groundstaff is usually the last month of competitive rugby (Summer) league matches, except where clubs may be involved in end of season play off finals. Many groundstaff will be gearing and preparing themselves for the end of season renovations, unless they ground share with other rugby or football clubs who utilise the facility during the winter period.

Most of the 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

September tasks for Rugby League





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


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



Keep and eye on fungal disease attack, and use approved fungicides to treat infected areas. Heavy dews are prevalent in September. Increasing the likelihood of disease attack, particularly from red thread and fairy rings. See link for details about Red thread Fairy rings


Immediately after game

To repair scars and surface damage use a fork to tease up heel marks and a mix of soil/seed for any small foot holes that may have been kicked out.



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

End of season renovations


Consideration of the extent and what renovations will be required, and will be dependant on the condition of the pitch at the end of the playing season. Another factor that determines the level of renovation is often the budget available to the club.

End of season works will generally include scarification, aeration, topdressing, overseeding and fertilising. Operations for a single pitch area can cost anything up to £5000. Complete pitch resurfacing works
(fraise mowing, power- harrowing, re levelling and overseeding) can cost between £15-£20000. In most cases specialist turf care machinery is used to carry out these tasks. (The above costs would include labour and materials).

The following activities are generally implemented during the autumn renovations and usually carried out in the following order:-

  1. Mowing the sward, preparing surfaces for renovation.

  2. Scarification, removal of unwanted debris (collect arisings).

  3. Aeration, decompaction of soil profile, improving the air and gas exchange in soil.

  4. Top dressing, restores levels and improves surface drainage. (60-100 tonnes of material per pitch.

  5. Overseeding, restores grass populations.

  6. Fertilising, provides nutrients for grass growth.

  7. Brushing, to incorporate dressings and to help the grass stand back up.

  8. Watering/Irrigation.

Further information on renovation techniques and equipment can be seen on the following link. Renovation.

Fertiliser programme

If grass shows signs of stress (weak growth, discoloured)

Fertiliser treatment and turf tonic 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 groundstaff will be applying autumn N P K fertiliser, perhaps something like a 3/10/5 to maintain root development through the winter. The choice of materials and how well they work will dependant on factors such as soil type and weather, with moisture and soil temperature being the catalyst for growth. See link for list of autumn fertilisers.

Goal posts


Inspect goal posts and sockets to check they are safe and secure.wakefieldgoals.jpg

Grooming/ verticutting

As required

Grooming and verticutting are operations that remove unwanted side growth and reduce the amount of debris in the sward. These operations are carried out on a regular basis often weekly or fortnightly. These operations are completed in conjunction with your mowing regimes.

Harrowing/ rakingapril-diary-harrowing.jpg

When conditions allow

Helps to restore levels and keep surfaces open.

Irrigation equipment

As required

Inspect installations for leaks. There may be a need to irrigate during renovation programmes. September can often be a dry month. Allowing areas to dry out can lead to problems of dry patch, a condition that prevents water infiltration into the soil and thus forming areas of non-uniform turf quality. Further information about Irrigation of sports surfaces can be see on link. Irrigation



Inspect and remove debris from playing surface litter or any wind blown tree debris, litter, twigs and leaves.

Machinery (Repairs and maintenance)


Inspect and clean machinery after use; service and repair damaged machinery.

Marking out


As Required

There are a number of marking machines available for marking out lines, wheel to wheel, spray jet, dry liners and aerosol markers. The choice will be dependent on cost, efficiency and the type of line you want. Ensure the machine is clean and ready for use. Dirty line markers often effect the quality of your line marking.wakefieldpitch2.jpg

It is preferable to use water based products for line marking and logos. Other materials may kill or scorch the grass, the use of lime or creosote is illegal.

See link for choice of line marking machines and materials.


As required

To maintain sward height 50-75mm. Frequency of mowing will increase to maintain sward height as soil and air temperatures begin to rise initiating grass growth. Dual use pitches will have to be maintained at a lower height of cut, try to keep above 30mm if possible.

Seed bare & worn areas

When conditions allow

Seeding of sparse or bare areas can be carried out. 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.

Soil sampling is an important part of Groundsmanship. The results will enable the manager to have a better understanding of the current status of his soil and turf. There are many tests that can be undertaken, but usually the main tests to consider are:

  • Particle Size Distribution (PSD) this will give you accurate information on the soil type and it's particle make up, enabling you to match up with appropriate top dressing materials and ensuring you are able to maintain a consistent hydraulic conductivity (drainage rate) of your soil profile.

  • Soil pH, it is important to keep the soil at a pH of 5.5-6.5, a suitable level for most grass plants.

  • Organic matter content, it is important to keep a balanced level of organic matter content in the soil profile.

  • Nutrient Levels. Keeping a balance of N P K nutrients within the soil profile is essential for healthy plant growth.

Once you have this information you will be in a better position to plan your season's feeding and maintenance programmes.

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