0 Twickenham Stadium is pitch perfect for the Final

twickenham final You can be certain that the Twickenham surface will be at its most impressive on Saturday when Saracens and Northampton Saints take to it for the Aviva Premiership Rugby Final.

"This will be my 17th Premiership Rugby Final and I have loved seeing some classic matches over those years."

While the likes of George North and Chris Ashton will be gunning to touch down on the famous turf, it is the work of deputy head groundsman Ian Ayling and his team that will allow them to do so.

The home of England rugby has seen an action-packed schedule over the last six weeks but after a rest during the bank holiday weekend for both pitch and staff, work is well underway for the final on Saturday.

Ayling, together with head groundsman Keith Kent and assistant Andy Muir, will tend to the pitch on a daily basis throughout the week, with the grass being cut and the lines painted on repeatedly.

Ayling insists everything is on track as they look to deliver a surface that has come to be known as one of the world's best.

"The build-up started on Tuesday as the pitch, as well as ourselves, had a rest over the bank holiday weekend in preparation for Saturday," said Ayling, who has been part of the ground staff at Twickenham since 1998.

"We've seen a busy six weeks of rugby from junior cup finals to European semi-finals - in fact about 70 hours of rugby has been played on the surface since the back end of March.

"We will double cut the pitch each day and start to get the stripes on but we could have some difficulty with the weather as there is rain forecast for the next few days.

"There are three of us in the team with head groundsman Keith and our assistant Andy and we are a very efficient team. We pride ourselves on having one of the best pitches in the country and we treat the pitch exactly the same for any game that goes on at Twickenham.

"This will be my 17th Premiership Rugby Final and I have loved seeing some classic matches over those years. In that time the pitch has obviously changed quite a lot and with the most recent redevelopment, where three per cent of the pitch is artificial, it has definitely made things easier.

"That small amount of artificial fibres stabilises the pitch for better scrummaging and quicker play. It is good for the backs as they can still keep their footing and obviously for the forwards too."

Long before the sell-out crowd arrives on match day Ayling will be putting the finishes touches to the surface. Then long after the trophy has been lifted and the champagne uncorked he will also be called upon. But with such an excellent reputation to show for his troubles, the 45-year-old admits hopefully the proof of their hard work will be there for all to see at 3pm on Saturday.

"On match day we get in early and cut the pitch both ways then put on the logo, which in a way is its final polish before the match," he added.

"We then usually have enough time to get changed and watch the kick-off but we also need to find time to eat and relax for a bit before we get back to work after the final whistle.

"There's a lot of hard work that goes into it but the end product will be there to see at 3pm on Saturday ahead of what I hope will be a very exciting match."

Article sourced :Premiership Rugby.com

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