Artificial Pitch Strategy
24 January 2016
Posted by on
Following the RFU’s press release on capital investment into the artificial grass pitch (AGP) strategy, I and other colleagues involved with the Eastern Counties Funding & Facilities committee have been bombarded with requests from clubs and schools that want to apply to have an AGP installed at their site.
The situation is that the RFU is currently delivering six pilot projects to be ready in summer 2016. As this is a pilot the RFU will monitor progress of these sites and further refine its plans on the delivery of this significant capital investment in the community game. The remaining pitches will be delivered over a four year period with sites being identified through the Eastern Counties facilities planning process. There is no application process; all clubs will be considered against the criteria below and clubs will be invited into the programme.
The projects will be situated on sites where the pitches are currently overcapacity and where the AGP will support the growth of the game at the club and the wider local rugby partnership, including other local clubs and educational establishments. Clubs will need to own their freehold or have a long lease in order to be eligible to be part of the programme. As you will appreciate there any many factors that need to be considered by the ECRU Facilities Group before identified clubs are invited into the programme.
The RFU Council had a presentation about the AGP strategy at its December meeting which gave the rationale behind the strategy which will be a huge boon to grass roots rugby in England. 100 floodlit AGPs over the next four years will potentially benefit between 300 and 400 rugby clubs plus schools, colleges and community groups, allowing training and games to take place in conditions that natural grass surfaces could not cope with.
When I visited Belgium as part of the Unity Project in 2013 it was interesting to see that most towns had an artificial grass rugby pitch and I hope that after this four year programme is over, there will be continued investment by the RFU to build yet more AGPs at rugby clubs.
Latest RFU Press Release about the AGP strategy