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Rugby Super League Embraces the Benefits of Artificial Turf

Rugby Super League was one of the first UK professional leagues to re-embrace artificial turf, whether it is used for training facilities or stadium surfaces and it looks like 3G sports pitches are here to stay and increase in numbers in upcoming years.

It all began with the installation of an artificial grass pitch at Widnes Vikings’ Stobart Stadium in Halton. Since Widnes Viking re-joined the Rugby Super League in 2012, they have trained and competed on artificial turf and what was seen as a hugely controversial decision at the time has gone on to have a wide range of positive knock on effects. Steve O’Connor, Vikings Chairman said this at the time “Our members and visitors will be able to see more games, it will create a pathway for our young players and it will be used as a community resource. We are working with our partners at Halton Borough Council and have exciting plans to transform the I-Pitch into a 7-a-side football sports facility during the week. This will also generate income for the club and the stadium.”

The benefits of playing on artificial turf for Rugby Super League are huge. Firstly artificial turf allows for intensive playing hours on the surface, something previously unheard of. Rugby League by its nature is a fast explosive game that is extremely hard on natural grass playing surfaces. Traditional rugby grass playing surfaces can be mud baths or unplayable in the winter and during the summer months (admittedly not so much in this country) pitches are baked hard by the sun. 3G artificial surfaces provide an even and soft playing surface all year round, wet or dry and provide a reliable and cost effective surface.

The latest 3G technology replicates the perfect playing conditions and installed 3G pitches should meet RFL and IRB guidelines and accreditations for safety and performance. The pile height, sand and rubber infill and shock pad used in Rugby artificial grass pitches, and the highly engineered nature of the products combined, means that 3G pitches are a true and safe playing surface.

The commercial benefits of a 3G pitch are undeniable; a well maintained artificial pitch can be played on from sun up to sun down and create a pathway for junior players coming up through the club to be seen in youth matches on the first team pitch as well, as generating further income for the club. A venue can hire out a 3G facility mid week, hold events on the surface, or they can be turned into soccer centres when they are not being used in their club capacity.

From a maintenance point of view, although an artificial grass sports facility still requires maintenance, a 3G pitch is considerably easier to maintain than a natural grass facility and the annual running costs can be as little as £2,500 compared to around £10,000 for a top quality natural grass pitch. A 3G pitch means the end of maintaining pitches with watering and fertiliser, and cancelled matches draining away the profitability of a club are a thing of the past.

In terms of performance, 3G pitches are hugely popular with players as the surface provides a stable footing for players, allowing them to concentrate on ball skills, scrums and technique rather than footing and trying to avoid slipping on muddy, water logged surfaces. The Rugby Super League has also embraced artificial turf for training facilities and Thornton Sports have created state of the art facilities for Wigan Warriors and Warrington Wolves. Speaking with the clubs’ player development teams, they found that players trained faster and harder on artificial grass surfaces, allowing them to develop their ball skills for what is a fast paced and explosive game.

 As you enjoyed reading this, you may also enjoy Rugby or SudsSports.

 If you would like to know more about 3G rugby pitches please contact us on 01282 777345 or visit www.thorntonsports.co.uk

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