0 Rugby Challenge brings Top Turf Pitches

Rugby Challenge brings Top Turf Pitches

FORTY-ONE rugby pitches have now benefited from funding by the Rugby Football Union (RFU) after the first year of the Community Club Development Project (CCDP) to improve grass roots playing surfaces.

Awarding £1.3 million pounds in the first year to clubs throughout the country - from Camborne in the South West to Alnwick in the North East - rugby clubs have received varying levels of help from full reconstruction of their pitches to an end-of-season renovation.Total Turf Solutions (TTS) has acted as Turf Consultant for this major initiative. They have a wide range of technical expertise within their team.

Alan Lewis, Technical Director, says: "I have assessed the pitches, looking at soil type, drainage and the facilities and resources clubs have to manage them. "From this information I have devised plans to ensure playing surfaces are improved."

Working within a tight time schedule TTS had just seven weeks to assess the pitches and all tendering was completed before the end of March 2004.

"Getting specifications out and meeting the contractors on site was vital to get help to clubs as soon as was practicable.

"I have to say how impressed I was with the contractors standard of work on the projects," says Alan, former Grounds Manager at Shrewsbury School.

Highly qualified in sports agronomy, Alan and his team assessed how pitches drained and recommended the measures necessary to rectify any problems, together with the choice of grass species and fertilisers.

"Some renovations were to the value of £5,000 and the larger jobs, which included full drainage systems and pitch reconstruction, cost as much as £60,000.

Compaction main problem

Compaction due to a lack of aeration was the major problem faced by most clubs. Local authorities manage some facilities but club members look after most pitches.

"There was a definite lack of aeration and an annual fertiliser programme," says Alan. "There needs to be an increase in education towards rugby pitch maintenance and this is something the RFU is addressing with the Institute of Groundsmanship.

"We understand that maintenance is the key to sustaining good surfaces so it is vital clubs are aware they can come back to us for advice at any time. Through practical ground management advice we will help ensure the on-going success of the projects."

Club comments

Bradford & Bingley RFC. Mark Heap, Head Groundsman.

The pitch was reconstructed and levelled. Rootzone and sand was incorporated and then the surface was sown and fertilised.

''The club are very happy with the work and believe through comments by players and referees that they now have the best pitch in National League Three," says Mark.

"From a groundsman's point of view I have been very impressed by the manner and quality of work from the contractor Bancroft Amenities and would recommend them to anyone.

"The pitch is playing well and holding up. I have selected certain games for the pitch, to stop undue wear while the surface is still growing in.''

Fleetwood RFC. Sid Jones, Site Representative.

Installation of a full pipe pitch drainage system and surface renovation.

''The project has gone extremely well and we have been very impressed by TTS and Phillip Dixon Land Drainage who have been our contractors," says Sid.

"Work was carried out on our second team pitch due to the fact it has been in a terrible state.

"After investigating the drains we already had we found that they were sloping the wrong way. Therefore, a new main drain had to be installed. Due to the fact that we are at sea level, care had to be taken to make sure the drains would work.

"When the drainage and renovation work had been completed we had the best grass cover I have seen," he says.

"I checked the drains last week and they are running well.

"I think the project has been a great success and it has given us a good base to work from," he says.

"We appreciate though that we will still need to complete the right maintenance work.''

Even more clubs will see improved pitch standards this year - with five more pitches to be completed at the end of the season - and the second-year phase of the programme starting.

Contacts: Total Turf Solutions Ltd: Tel 01604 750555, email info@totalturfsolutions.co.uk www.totalturfsolutions.co.uk

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