Newly crowned English Premier League Champions Manchester City prepare for further excitement this weekend as they host Rugby League's Magic Weekend. The Super League event will see all 14 teams take part in 7 games played over this Saturday and Sunday at the Etihad Stadium.
7 games to be played in 2 days
The 'Magic Weekend' event has been run as part of the full Super League season since 2007, previously hosted at grounds such as the Millennium Stadium, Wales and Murrayfield, Scotland. The event is seen as a way of offering Rugby League to new audiences all over the UK.
Etihad Stadium Head Groundsman Lee Jackson states 'This is a first for any Premier League club to take on such an intense event. The pitch will be used non-stop during the two days to cater for 7 fixtures throughout the weekend.'
Proven pitch quality
The Etihad's Desso GrassMaster system has performed very well all season culminating in a fantastic finale against QPR where City were crowned Champions with just about the last kick of the season.
Mr Jackson continues 'We have been extremely happy with the performance of the pitch all year. We have hosted 27 games and 8 training sessions throughout the season not to mention 7 days of corporate bookings during last week as well as the England football team training here for two days on the Wednesday and Thursday prior to the Magic Weekend.'
'Our unbeaten home league record was a huge factor in us winning the title -18 wins and 1 draw out of the 19 games. We believe the performance of the system and the consistency it provides the players with speaks for itself.
The grass cover suffered a little over the colder months this year. Between mid November to mid February we had 10 games and two Champions League training sessions, of which 10 of the pitch uses were in the rain and two in snow. However the integrity of the surface was never compromised due to the Grassmaster performing exactly how we expected it to'
Added value of the pitch to the event
The added durability of the system is the main reason Lee believes a competition like 'Magic Weekend' can take place. 'The GrassMaster system enables us to maintain a free draining, stable and consistent playing surface even if we lose some grass cover. These properties mean that we are extremely confident the pitch can withstand the 7 fixtures in 31 hours, whilst still offering a quality playing surface - something no other system could accommodate in my opinion.'
Magic Weekend is expected to bring in near-capacity crowds with 4 local derby fixtures being played during the two days including current Super League Champion's Leeds Rhino's taking on Yorkshire rivals Bradford Bulls, whilst St Helen's will be looking for victory over Lancashire neighbours and current table topers Wigan Warriors.
Lee Jackson added 'It is our first attempt at staging domestic Rugby league at the stadium having previously hosted a full international between Great Britain and Australia in 2004 and we are looking forward to being part of such a fantastic event - roll on Saturday!'
About Desso Sports Systems
Desso Sports Systems is the international leader in innovative sports fields for football, rugby and hockey pitches as well as tennis courts and multifunctional fields. Over time, the company has installed more than 50 million m² of artificial turf at both amateur and professional clubs all over the world.
The Desso GrassMaster system is in place at some 450 stadia and training centers worldwide, including Wembley and ten Premier League football clubs in the UK. The company is a FIFA Preferred Producer for football turf.
Desso Sports Systems is part of Desso, which manufactures contract carpeting and carpet tiles for offices, public buildings, schools, hospitals and airlines. Sustainability (Cradle to Cradle) and creativity are important key values.
Desso Sports Systems
Helga Webers, Marketing Manager
hwebers(at)desso.com +32/ 474/ 994 250