For those of you who've visited Stourton Park in the last week or so, you'll have noticed a big change to the First XV pitch!
Work has begun on the Artificial Grass Pitch (AGP), part of the RFU's Rugby 365 initiative and is scheduled to be finished early in the new season.
This is an exciting development for Stourbridge Rugby, reducing the chance of games and training sessions being cancelled due to weather conditions; and generally increasing the amount of rugby played at the Club. It will also provide a facility for local Clubs that need to train or catch up with league fixtures if their own pitches are unplayable.
PLEASE NOTE: If you are looking at new boots for the coming season, BLADES will NOT be permitted on the AGP. Rules and guidelines for the use of the AGP will be posted here and on the website in dues course.
Below is the RFU's general press release that was sent out last week:
New RFU Artificial Grass Pitch in the West Midlands
- Stourbridge Rugby Club to benefit from Rugby 365 artificial grass pitch from next season
- Booking site open to the public on August 19 at www.englandrugby.com/rugby365
The West Midlands is set to benefit from a RFU Rugby 365 floodlit artificial grass pitch (AGP) due for completion in time for next season. The pitch is part of the RFU’s Rugby World Cup 2015 legacy of delivering over £50m investment over four years into the development of 100 AGPs across England.
The new facility will provide clubs across the West Midlands community the chance to benefit from year-round rugby through the durability of the floodlit surface which will enable additional training sessions and more flexibility in playing times. As a result, the pitch is expected to increase rugby participation across clubs and community groups, further growing the sport.
“At Stourbridge Rugby Club we are delighted to be working with the RFU and to have been selected to host their artificial grass pitch”, said Robin Edwards, Chairman of Stourbridge Rugby Football Club.
He adds “We believe it will prove to be an excellent facility, which will enhance the local playing experience and provide a reliable surface that should encourage open running rugby. The opportunity to use a pitch frequently without the usual concerns about extensive maintenance is a novelty we are keen to experience. We hope to attract players of all ages and abilities from across the community to enjoy playing rugby on this new surface.”
Three additional Rugby 365 Artificial Grass Pitches are also set for completion by next season in Cambridgeshire, Durham and West Yorkshire.
The AGPs will be located at host clubs Keighley RUFC, Billingham Rugby Club and Shelford Rugby Club and follow on from completion of the first three AGPs in Buckinghamshire, Somerset and Lancashire at the end of last year.
England Rugby’s investment in AGPs is part of their Rugby World Cup 2015 legacy of delivering over £50m over four years into the development of 100 AGPs across England.
In four months of on-season usage since the first three Rugby 365 pitches opened in January, they have hosted over 250 matches and more than 30 festivals of rugby with a combined footfall of 20,000 players enjoying the experience.
The pitches are a community facility for all clubs, players and teams from across the area to benefit from and enjoy. Testament to the growth of the women’s game, one third of all bookings have involved women and girls and a third of bookings are by non-senior teams, showing great appetite from youth players.
“We hope the local community will embrace the new AGP and take advantage of the additional opportunities it provides people to play year-round rugby,” said Steve Grainger, RFU Rugby Development Director.
He adds “Since launching our first sites in January we have seen local clubs, schools and teams from across the local areas all embracing the opportunity to play on the world-class facilities without weather, darkness or lack of pitch access limiting their ability to enjoy this great game.”
Alongside the Rugby 365 programme, the RFU is investing £10m over four years into partner organisations to part-fund 40 Rugby Share pitches on community sites. The University of Hull and University of Gloucestershire are due for completion by next season and will offer even greater access to rugby across their respective communities through multi-sport AGP playing surfaces.
For more information on Artificial Grass Pitches, and to book a pitch near you, go to www.englandrugby.com/rugby365
Here's a few pics of the progress so far...
...and here's a few pics from the recent AGP installation at Preston Grasshoppers.