A Tyne & Wear groundsman who has been in the business for more than 20 years says he's never seen rugby pitches more prepared for the new season after using Barenbrug's BAR 7 RPR - Regenerating Perennial Ryegrass - mixture.
Paul Jackson has been tending to The Square field facility at King's School Tynemouth as well as the Tynemouth Cricket Club grounds since 1997, and is also an England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) pitch adviser for Northumberland Cricket Board.
With rugby at the heart of the King's ethos, Paul was keen to bring improved wear tolerance to the independent school's grounds ahead of the new season. And so, having historically used BAR 9 on the 1.6-hectare Prior's Park and 1.8-hectare The Square dual-use rugby and cricket playing fields, Paul decided to try Barenbrug's BAR 7 RPR sports perennial ryegrass mixture after hearing about the improved wear tolerance at venues such as Manchester City Football Club.
As Paul explains: "The main field at Prior's Park, which is maintained by the school's own groundsman, Brian Lister, is used by the school six days a week and so gets a lot of wear. The loss of grass density on the training grid was causing us real problems. I wanted a mixture that would keep the cover, but also build on it. I've always used BAR 9 and also used BAR Extreme on my cricket square at Tynemouth with great success. So when I read about RPR in the press and heard that it was used by the likes of Manchester City I decided to give it a try."
After conducting a successful 25sq m trial in conjunction with local Barenbrug distributor Turfcare Specialists Limited and their technical adviser Allan Morton, Paul was convinced that the mixture's unique creeping growth habit would provide the improved wear tolerance he was looking for. And, after overseeding in late spring, he has not been disappointed by the results.
"We had a slow start because of the cold conditions at the beginning of this year," Paul continues. "But a new slow-release fertiliser programme and then all that rain this summer meant it really took off. I've never seen anything like it - the grass is the densest I've ever seen, which is saying something after using the BAR 9 perennial ryegrass mix. We've even had to start cutting three instead of two times a week to keep up with the growth!"
With training underway at Prior's Park, Paul says that the school is anticipating increased use of the grounds, thanks to the improved wear tolerance and recovery provided by the BAR 7 RPR. "The school is over the moon with the results," he says. "Rugby is really important to King's. The head of PE, Robert Snow, is delighted - there are no visual signs of wear so far and he's been able to organise more games because we're confident we'll get more wear out of the pitch.
"King's strives to offer the best facilities to pupils and its groundsman Brian Lister has commented that it's the best grass coverage he's seen in his 29 years working there. Likewise, I've been a groundsman for over 20 years and I've never seen pitches as well prepared ahead of the new season. The proof of the pudding will be how they perform over winter, but I expect the RPR to deliver based on my experiences with BAR 9 and BAR Extreme. I'd certainly recommend the mixture - it's a renovation 'must' for an independent school like this."
For more information on BAR 7 RPR or Barenbrug's wider products and services, call 01359 272000, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.barenbrug.co.uk.