People involved with rugby, from players and coaches at all levels to fans and spectators, have debated for some time whether or not artificial pitches could be a good thing for the sport. Certainly for the larger clubs, who are able to employ a grounds team to look after their pitches, the muddy pitches of the amateur world are a thing of the past. The immaculate grass is the envy of others around the country, and throughout the season, wherever you play, there is a lot of rain.
So wouldn’t it make sense to have artificial pitches so it didn’t matter how much rain fell?
Even the best groundsman is not able to change the weather forecast, and the big positive in favour of artificial pitches is that they do not get waterlogged so fewer games are lost to unplayable conditions. Artificial turf is durable, and for community clubs, it can be a big help in sharing the space.
Aside from costs and value, artificial turf can help promote consistency and a fairer platform so that all clubs play on the same surface. It also behaves in the same way all year round and players can understand the impact on them through shock absorption and traction.
Of course, there is less maintenance involved with an artificial pitch, so there can be savings there too.
Artificial pitches do leave grazes. Not dissimilar to carpet burns, the grazes are deep, painful, and take time to heal. There is also some suggestion that the body takes more of a pounding and there is more stress on joints as there is less ‘give’ from an artificial pitch.
Consistency is key and providing a universal standard is the ultimate goal. For more information on artificial pitches for rugby, see the guidance from the Rugby Football Union.
If you do go down the route of artificial turf, you should review your rugby training drills so there is less chance of injury during training. Improve your health by playing rugby and get good at it with training drills found online at Sportplan.
Despite the divisions of those in favour of artificial pitches and those who aren’t, there is a large number of clubs who simply could not afford to put it down, so it is unlikely to become standard any time soon.