Cheltenham Rugby Club RFU pitch improvements.
By Laurence Gale MSc
Cheltenham is one of many rugby clubs in England, who have benefited from the Rugby Football Union's (RFU) Foundation funding opportunities. The club applied for funds to renovate their first team pitch at the Prince of Wales Stadium. Their bid was successful, resulting in a grant of £6800 being made available for pitch improvements.
The process started last April when Alan Lewis from Total Turf Solutions (TTS) an independent turfgrass consultancy company was awarded the role of putting together a report for the RFU. The report highlighted the need for some renovation works that involved decompacting the soil profile, top dressing, weed killing, over seeding and fertilising. The work was awarded to D W Clarke contractors who were able to complete all the works in April 2004. Some additional deep aeration works were also included in the
Cheltenham RFC have been using the Prince of Wales Stadium facility since 1981. The facility is co-leased with the Athletics club, both clubs sharing and securing a long term lease agreement with Cheltenham Borough Council.
The regular maintenance tasks are carried out by Cheltenham Borough Council. These include regular mowing, marking out and some end of season repair works. The cost of these operations are covered within the lease agreement the club has with the Council.
Eric has a vast wealth of Groundsmanship knowledge and experience having worked for Cheltenham Borough Council for 37 years. Eric was able to convince the council to invest in a new 36 inch Dennis mower to mow the rugby pitch instead of ride on rotaries. Ensuring a better quality cut and presentation when mowing the pitch. Eric keeps the height of cut to around 75mm during the playing season to prevent wear and provide a good vegetative cover to help cushion players when they fall in the tackle.
Steve Ratcilffe the current Club Chairman of the rugby club is very pleased with the results of the recent renovations works. Stating that the grass coverage is the best he has seen since being involved with the club.
Steve Joined the club in 1990 as a playing member, However in 1997 Steve had to pack up playing due to injuries, but continued to be involved with the club in the capacity of players representative on the club committee. However, in the late 1990's the club found themselves in financial difficulties. Resulting in some major personnel changes taking place at the club with Steve and a group of friends taking over the running of the club.
Steve is confident that with these pitch improvements, coupled with the newly appointed Head coach Peter Kennedy and other coaches, the club's future looks bright.
The club promotes three senior sides, a colt XV and a ladies XV. Along with a healthy Junior and Mini section that provides teams with ages ranging 7-17 including an U'16 girls side.
The following link will take you to the RFU Community Programme where details of funding opportunities can be seen and assessed. Community Rugby Capital Fund Scheme
Cheltenham Tigers RFC
Prince of Wales Stadium
Tommy Taylors Lane
Phone: 01242 525393