Rugby Union is traditionally played as a winter sport, the season commencing from September to April. Rugby League is also traditionally a winter sport, although there is now a professional season played from the spring to the autumn.
Generally though the closed season should though allow at least a twelve-week window to allow for renovation and rejuvenation.
See our Useful Information section for the minimum and maximum sizes of rugby pitches. Rugby Union pitches should be a maximum length of 144 metres from dead ball line to dead ball line and 70 metres wide. Rugby League pitches should be a maximum of 122 metres in length and 68 metres wide.
Total area of a rugby pitch will average around 8500 square metres.
There must be an additional allowance of at least 1 metre (preferably more) of space around the perimeter of the pitch, for the allowance of line-outs.
Our monthly diary is not 'set in stone' and is purely designed as a guideline. There are variables involved that will ensure that no working template can be created, the weather, the site location, aspect, soil characteristics, finance available and usage will help to determine your own working diary. If you would like to add comments to the diary please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
However we strive for a perfect pitch that provides a consistent playing surface throughout the season. The basis for a good rugby pitch should be that it is level and even, free from undulation, allowing players to travel at speed with confidence.
To provide the above, the pitch needs to have a healthy sward. The sward describes the thickness and quality of the grass. One that has only desirable grasses such as Rye and is free from weeds.
The profile or soil medium should be free draining and firm. A firm pitch will provide a safe surface for the players and allow for ball bounce.
It is fair to say that February maintenance is much the same as January, so there is repetition. However the weather has turned cooler again and you may be looking at protecting worn areas from frost.
Aim to drag mat or brush the surface of the pitch weekly to disperse worm casts and remove dew. This operation can also be carried out using a chain harrow with the flat side downwards. If the weather and ground conditions are unsuitable for machine use, then a useful tip is to get a long length (20yds+) of thick rope (1"+) fixed between two broom handles, and with another person walk up and down the playing area removing excess moisture and worm casts.
If the weather and soil conditions allow, run the cylinder mower once weekly over the surface to lightly firm the ground-do not attempt this if the ground is too soft and muddy. Depending on weather conditions, it may be possible to tip the grass with the mower blades on. Traditionally rugby has been played on grass grown to a height of 50mm (2"), but with the advent of better quality grasses and a faster game most professional teams now play on similar lengths to that of football. Grass length being cut at about 30mm (1 ¼").
If using a roller instead then follow the above and use in appropriate conditions. Open the ground with a deep slit or solid tine spiker after mowing or rolling.
Aeration is important at all times of the year, but with little or no evapo-transpiration, higher precipitation and raised water tables, the ground will be holding more moisture. Slit spiking or solid tining are therefore order of the month and should be carried out with the right ground conditions at least twice during the month. Many Groundsmen will try to vary the spiking depth to avoid 'panning' the ground at the bottom of the spikes. But the deeper the spiking without causing surface disturbance will be of benefit at this time. If it is necessary apply an approved drainage sand to wet areas.
On wet ground, unsuitable for machinery, fork worst areas without causing surface disturbance to get air into the ground and help drainage. Then broadcast sand to the area and brush or work in to level.
Continue divotting after games, to put back the grass and retain levels. On large areas if physical hand divotting is not possible the use of a tractor drawn harrow (flat side down) will help to 'knock back' the divots. However if the pitches are wet, more damage will occur using machinery and multiple pitches are best left in this circumstances-or attempt as much hand divotting as is possible.
The severest wear areas will be found where line-outs and scrums have occurred. Repair areas with sand/root zone to reinstate levels.
Most professional Groundsmen will divot straight after the game-and, as a rule of thumb 4-5 people will put back the worst damage within an hour of starting (4-5 man hours). This is a major benefit to the pitch for two reasons, the first is that the grass has a better chance of survival and the roots get a chance to take hold again, secondly if the pitch freezes then it will be flat and free of ruts.
Where there are holes and no divots to replace in them make up a mix of sand/soil or purchase some root zone and walk the pitch filling these holes with the mix. Again professionals will add seed to this mix so when better weather arrives the seed will germinate allowing for quicker sward recovery.
Marking out may be becoming more difficult as the grass is thinning out and muddy areas are appearing. If you use a wheel transfer machine the operation of applying paint may be hindered by mud and sand getting on the wheels. Poor areas may need to be hand painted. The club could consider purchasing a spray marker or a dry line marker for putting down an adequate line in these circumstances.
With plenty of rain and possibly snow, markings will disappear rapidly; so marking out may be a weekly operation. Professionals tend to put a fresh mark on for every game.
It is also possible that the pitch will be prone to freezing. With cooler temperatures and high moisture content in the ground, the surface may freeze. If at all possible, get the pitch surface flat before frost is forecasted. Usual scenario is that the game is played on a Saturday, the pitch isn't repaired until the following Monday, in between times the pitch freezes! The surface is rutted and unplayable. A referee is far more likely to deem a pitch fit for play if it's flat, albeit a bit hard.