Over seventy delegates attended the recent Rugby Turf Workshop at Twickenham Stadium hosted by Boarding Schools Association (BSA) and sports facility specialist S&C Slatter. This was the second year the event had been organised and representatives from Independent Schools and Community Rugby Clubs travelled from all parts of the Country to attend.
The purpose of the workshop was to impart the latest information and practical advice to those considering or planning to build sports facilities featuring a rugby turf (artificial grass) match play or training pitch. To develop knowledge, dispel a few misconceptions and share the experiences of schools who have already completed this process.
Introduced by Chairman Andrew Lewin, BSA Director of Training, Robert Lougee, Bursar of Salesian College Farnborough commenced with a presentation on how best to create (and implement) a development plan. Using data and progress photographs from the pitch build project completed by Salesian in 2017, Robert delivered an insightful and highly detailed account of how to achieve the very best results. The college certainly did that; their artificial grass rugby pitch is highly regarded for its play performance.
The design and planning process is a vital part of any estate development not least when looking to build an artificial grass facility. Ben O’Connor, Head of Pre-Construction at S&C Slatter is an expert in this field and works with clients on projects ranging in value from a few thousand to in excess of six million pounds. Ben described the process pathway successfully adopted by S&C Slatter which acknowledges the recommendations of the RIBA Plan of Work 2013 and embraces strategic definition, preparation and the brief, concept design, developed design and technical design.
It was a tribute to the growing importance of this BSA/S&C Slatter Workshop, that once again Marc Douglas, Research, Turf & Equipment Manager of World governing body, World Rugby, travelled over from his office in Dublin to deliver the ‘key note’ presentation – the World Rugby Regulation 22 performance standard. This standard has as number one priority, player welfare, but it also identifies the best quality manufacturers, sets a minimum expected level of performance and operates a pitch certification process.
FieldTurf is S&C Slatter’s artificial turf manufacturer partner and a World Rugby Preferred Turf Producer. Paul Fraser, Regional Business Director of FieldTurf, followed Marc with an update into the very latest artificial grass technology and an overview of how his company works to ensure that their product systems continue to innovate.
The final presentation was by Ben Grigor, Grounds Manager of Queen Ethelburga’s Collegiate, who has responsibility for their outstanding external facilities which include both artificial and natural grass rugby pitches. Ben talked about the maintenance programmes he operates and the challenges that one inevitably has to address in constantly delivering the very highest quality.
Paul Wilson of the Harlequins Foundation also gave a short talk on the invaluable work they do in schools.
The day ended with extended Q&A discussions which again emphasised just how successfully the audience had engaged with the workshop.