With the rugby season now virtually completed, it is time to encourage rugby clubs to invest in some end of season renovations.
These operations are key to ensure clubs can rejuvenate their pitches after a long, hard season - with the aim of restoring the playing surface and relieving any compacted pitches.
I recently attended one of the RFU’s popular Groundsmen Connected roadshows at Veseyans Rugby Club, Warsall, Birmingham - hosted by Twickenham’s head groundsman, Keith Kent. In attendance were a number of local rugby club volunteer groundsmen who were keen to meet Keith and receive any relevant help and advice on looking after their pitches.
Rugby Groundsmen Connected (RGC) is the RFU’s easy access, two-way communication network between the RFU and rugby union groundsmen. It is the main communication channel for the RFU to provide information and advice to groundsmen and has special offers and exclusive benefits for members. Everything the RFU does related to pitch maintenance will now come under the banner of Rugby Groundsmen Connected.
Groundsmen Connected is for anybody that has any involvement in the upkeep of rugby pitches; from the complete novice to Premiership groundsmen. Anyone can register to join RGC at no cost. Registration is by email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Once signed up turf professionals will receive regular communications with advice, information and the opportunity to ask questions.
RGC now has well over 1,000 groundsmen registered and Keith has been very supportive of the scheme and has himself visited many clubs up and down the country to pass on his advice. As a volunteer pitch advisor for the RFU myself, I was keen to meet up with Keith and offer my services to any local clubs. It is without doubt a busy schedule for Keith. To date he had already visited over 30 rugby clubs up and down the country giving vital advice on pitch maintenance.
During each road show Keith is supported by several of the Groundsmen Connected partners who support the scheme and pass on other relevant advice to the attending rugby clubs.
The road show kicked off with Keith giving a slide show and delivering an inside account of the work he does at Twickenham followed by presentations and demonstration from Rigby Taylor, SISIS, Mansfield Sands and Iseki. Machinery dealer Sharrocks supplied the Iseki tractor for the demonstrations.
Glen Howard of Rigby Taylor brought along their robotic GPS (First in Line) Tiny Line Marker a revolutionary self-propelled line marker. This machine is capable of initial marking out of a rugby pitch from scratch in less than 40 mins. Once you have located the post positions into the software app and decided on the width, length of the pitch and set the depth of the in-goal areas, away it goes. It was very impressive to see it at work, first hand. It can mark up to four rugby pitches with 10 litres of Impact paint.
This machine can initial mark out a football pitch in less than 30 mins and an eight-lane running track in just over two hours. These figures were backed up by Dave Fowler Simons of Lakeside Grounds Maintenance based in Coventry who was attending the roadshow. He himself owns one and said it saves him many manhours on his sports turf contracts.
The cost for hiring this machine to initial a rugby pitch come in at around £90 per pitch - a no brainer for me. What better way to ensure you have accurate lines on your club rugby pitch for the start of the season?
Next up was John Glifford of Iseki who spoke about the range of Iseki tractors on offer as part of the RFU partnership deal for Groundsmen Connected members. SISIS brought along their Quadraplay and outfield spiker that has become a very popular combination package for rugby clubs.
Keith Kent was on hand to praise these bits of kit and said they are the mainstay of any rugby club. Both essential for keeping the pitch in good condition over a hard and long demanding season.
After the demonstrations it was back inside the club house for a round of questions and answers, with many of the attendees keen to find out more about the services on offer.
As Keith and the rest of the companies in attendance stated, the key to having a decent playing surface is to invest in your pitches. The key for clubs is to ascertain the current condition of their pitches and find the best option of how to maintain them - whether it’s by hiring in contractors to undertake the work or to take on the responsibility themselves. In most cases it’s a combination of the two. Doing the basic maintenance regimes themselves and then perhaps hiring in contractors to undertake the end of season repair works.
While on the subject of Pitch renovations, Campey Turfcare are hosting a pitch renovation day at Newcastle Town FC, Staffordshire on 8th May, so you’ll be able to see at first hand a range of equipment and machinery in use at the football ground. To secure yourself a place please email Campey Turfcare at email@example.com
Not sure how long we expect this good spell of hot weather to last, but hopefully long enough for you to be getting on with your end of season renovations – followed by some much needed rain.