Getting Rugby Ready
The Rugby Union season is only a few weeks away from starting again. Groundsmen and volunteers up and down the country will be working tirelessly to make sure that their pitches are ready for the upcoming season. It doesn’t matter if you are playing at the grassroots level or in the Premiership, a well maintained and rugby ready pitch is of the utmost importance. As a groundsman/volunteer, what should you consider in the lead up to the start of the season? In August, you should be making the final preparations for the upcoming season. When was the last time the posts were checked? Probably this time last year. We would suggest you check all the goalposts for any safety issues and make sure that any remedial fixes are carried out. The last thing you want it a crossbar to come loose mid-game. One critical task to complete, mowing. To deliver a rugby pitch ready for the long season and upcoming winter months it is advised you keep mowing your pitch and irrigate if you need to. We also recommend that you restrict training and access to your pitches to avoid any damage or early wear. If you have constraints concerning the pitches your players have access to, we would advise you implement a rotation timetable to give your surfaces time to recover. If your surfaces do start to show signs of wear from a busy preseason, a little extra sand, watering and a feed can help with the regeneration of the pitch. However, this area would need time away from being trained on while re-growing. The longer you leave a pitch to grow and recover from last season, the better it will be at the start of this season. Over the summer and between various cuts your pitch markings will have all but disappeared. It’s time to get the line marker out to mark out your pitches for the new season and any training areas your side will require. Don’t forget the different types of lines needed for dead-ball lines, touch and goal lines. Don’t forget to mark out two technical areas at the side of the pitch for each team! For full dimensions of the playing area and lines check out this handy guide over on World Rugby. Don’t forget to keep on top of the mowing at the start of the season in September. You should be aiming to maintain a grass height between 50mm and 75mm (maximum). Hopefully, at the beginning of the season, there will still be a good amount of growth with healthy grass coming through. If we have a dry September, it is also advised to water your pitches if possible. Do not scarify if it is dry. There might be 30 players and a referee on the pitch come kick-off, but don’t forget the supporters. It is always good to have a quick walk around the pitch to make sure that any surrounding perimeter grass areas are cut down and weeded. Not typically pitch care related but as standard you will need to make sure that you have 14 flag posts per pitch for the new season also. With the upcoming Rugby World Cup, clubs might find an increased interest in people wanting to take part in the sport. Now is the time to prepare you pitch and training area for a (hopefully) busy season ahead.
5 Key Job include:
- Aeration - Rugby pitches can get a lot of foot traffic on them with most clubs hosting games from U8s – senior men's and women's level. If you don’t aerate your pitch the water will not drain through and you will suffer from drainage issues. You can use a fork if you have time however the best way of doing this is to get a verti-drain in which will cost £300-350.
- Sanding - Once you’ve aerated your pitch it is important to put sand down to fill the holes. You would need around 60-100 tonnes- this can be costly but there are grants available
- You are looking to cut around 50mm- no higher really. Ryegrass seed is great as it is hard-wearing.
- Fertilise in the autumn - this will get your pitch through the hard months of winter.
- Use cylinder mowers/smooth wheeled light tractors - the last thing you want on your pitch is wheel marks!