Tips for Looking After your Rugby Pitch

By Marsh

Posted 04/01/18

 

Keeping your rugby pitch healthy is important to ensure your club gets as much game time as possible and playing is enjoyable. It may seem like a daunting task, especially if you have no grounds keeping experience, but once you settle into a routine you’ll have a lush, green pitch perfect for play.

If the thought of taking care of a pitch intimidates you, here are some simple tips to get you started.

1. Do Your Research

Before you begin to tackle the condition of your pitch, you need to know what infrastructure or routine is in place. You should assess the ground conditions, establish if drainage is installed on your pitch and when it was installed. You also need to consider climate conditions and research topics such as average rainfall.

From a practical perspective, discuss with your club committee the budget, equipment and help available to take care of your pitch.

Once you have all this information, you’ll be in a better place to plan your maintenance schedule.

2. Get the Right Equipment

The right equipment can make a big difference in the quality of your pitch and the effort needed to look after it. However the ideal equipment can be expensive so it’s up to you and your club committee if the expenditure is worthwhile.

The Rugby Football Union’s (RFU) head groundsman recommends a compact tractor, tractor mounted aerator and a chain harrow or Quadraplay to break up clumps, level, and stripe the turf. Fortunately he also recommends hand tools and affordable equipment such as a mower which are useful for beginners or clubs with smaller budgets. [1]

3. Develop a Plan of Action

Next, you can develop a maintenance calendar. Start by breaking it down on a monthly basis and highlight what job you will tackle that month. You can then look at developing a weekly calendar to identify the days available to carry out maintenance as well as the help you have to get the job done.

The RFU has a detailed plan which sets out exactly what you should do and which areas you should pay attention to each month. [1]

Don’t forget though that you’ll also need a plan to cover “emergency” situations. What would you do if the pitch frosted over? Or it was water logged? A reactionary plan will make dealing with unexpected situations straightforward and will minimise the impact on game time.

4. Stay Vigilant

The best laid plans of a groundskeeper can often go awry – especially with the UK weather! Keep an eye on the forecast as well as your club’s fixtures and training programme. This will make it easier to plan (or plan as much as you can!) for unexpected events and identify weeks when the pitch will need more attention than normal.

5. Ask for Advice

If you get stuck or need help with a specific problem, Sport England has a useful website full of resources for groundsmen with all levels of experience. Groundsmanship.co.uk is full of helpful advice, checklists and videos on pitch maintenance for both rugby union, rugby league, football, and cricket. [2]

Once you’ve established a routine and have seen improvements in your pitch, you can sit back and enjoy the matches!

 

Sources

[1] http://www.englandrugby.com/mm/Document/General/General/01/31/54/04/KeithKentPitchMaintenanceGuide_English.pdf

[2] http://www.groundsmanship.co.uk/


Posted 04/01/18

Author: Marsh

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