Artificial Grass Pitch (AGP) at Maidenhead RFC
What has Maidenhead RUFC installed?
Maidenhead RUFC has installed a floodlit, 3G Artificial Grass Pitch (AGP) to enable all variants of rugby to be played up to and including International standard.
Is the pitch approved by the RFU for League matches?
Yes! The pitch is the first to reach both IRB (Regulation 22) and FIFA standards simultaneously. The pitch is certified to play all variants of rugby and football up to and including International level.
How is an AGP constructed?
A specialised stone base is prepared to meet exacting standards of drainage, stability, compactness and flatness before a carpet of 60mm artificial grass is laid over a 25mm rubber shock pad and then in filled with rubber crumb. The result is a durable and consistent playing surface that interacts with the ball in a similar way to natural grass pitches, but most importantly provides a highly engineered impact performance to manage the collision of players onto the surface. This is where rugby differs from other sports and why the shock pad and rubber infill are such important elements of the pitch construction.
Synthetic grass sports fields have changed dramatically since their inception in 1964. Thanks to modern technology, the surfaces are low impact, more realistic, feel much softer and respond very realistically to interactions with a ball and players. Any sports field utilising this modern synthetic grass system is known as a 3G (third generation) pitch. The most remarkable aspect of a 3G pitch is that some players have been reported as stating they prefer it to natural turf because it can be maintained at a consistently high quality all year round; it is a playing surface you can rely on.
Will Maidenhead have a Home advantage playing on this pitch?
Hopefully! But every club has an advantage playing at its home ground, as the players learn the nuances of their own pitches dimensions, slopes, wind and surface conditions. It will be the same for Maidenhead and we will still be faced with different ground conditions at other clubs.
What are the risks to players from burns and or ankle twists?
There are no specific or significant risks to players from burns and/or ankle twists.
What type of boots do you need to play on this pitch?
All and any IRB approved footwear is suitable on the 3G AGP. This is new to us but the advice we have been given from other 3G pitch operators and the RFU is that moulded studs are the most comfortable and are just as effective as aluminium studded boots for general play, including scrummaging. However all IRB approved moulded, studded or bladed boots are usable and will be checked by the match day officials in the usual manner. Trainers or flat shoes should not be used as this tends to compress the rubber infill.
What other activities do you plan on the new AGP?
It is our aim for the club facilities to be more inclusive, we want to utilise the AGP as much as possible and plan to run school and community events including other sports.
Will the pitch look like grass?
Yes it always look like grass in perfect condition and will not suffer from damaged appearance due to wear and tear.
What is the difference between artificial turf and natural turf?
The main difference between artificial turf and natural turf is that artificial turf can be used much more intensively. A natural pitch can be used between 2 - 5 hours a week whereas an artificial grass pitch can be used in excess of 50 hours week. Another benefit is the consistency of surface achieved with an artificial pitch.
After how many years will an artificial pitch need replacing?
The life expectancy of an artificial turf naturally depends on the maintenance and how often/intensively it is played on. As standard you can expect a life of 10/15 years.
What are the maintenance requirements?
AGP's require weekly maintenance to brush the surface using a small tractor unit and brush system to loosen and even out the rubber infill, similar to chain harrowing a natural pitch. The brushing process also cleans away any debris from the playing surface. On a monthly basis the pitch needs to be de compacted using the same tractor unit but with a spring tine system to penetrate deeper into the infill material.
Do artificial pitches freeze?
The AGP is not a water based system and so is significantly less prone to freezing than natural pitches. However in very cold conditions they can freeze as quantities of water can be held within the rubber crumb infill. In light frosts the brushing process should loosen the infill and in more severe conditions the tine system could be used. These operations would ensure minimal disruptions to play during a frost.
Products such as "air dried salt" can also be applied to the pitch (without damaging the system or fibres) to assist with excessive frost.
What happens when it snows?
Snow can be blown off the pitch by a snow blower or brushed to the sides.
Will an artificial pitch fade in the sun?
The pitch incorporates protections from the fading effect of sunlight.
What about pitch markings, can they be integrated into the artificial surface?
Yes. Logos or markings can be added to the pitch, either permanently, semi-permanently or for one-off events.
Is there an opportunity to get the AGP sponsored?
Yes. There are great opportunities for organisations who are looking at ways to improve/activate their corporate responsibility aims as the pitch will be a true community resource and show environmental benefits.
Are artificial pitches the way forward?
They may be for many Clubs. Maidenhead is a very large community club with over 600 youth players, 5 men's teams, 2 Colts' teams and a women's team. The demand for midweek floodlit training areas and back to back matches on the weekends, especially Sundays, led us to the 3G pitch solution. This was the only way we could cope with the load of rugby development activity across the club and ensure a consistent 1st XV pitch certified to International standard.