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Event preparation

EVENT PREPARATION

Non-sports event planning

If any events are planned on your pitch these events must be organised with the support of the ground staff of the venue. It is vitally important to ensure the ground staff mitigate risks to the surface as much as possible. This will include locations of stages to how long the pitch protection flooring is to be in place.

Using growth regulators, plant health treatments, zeolites and minimising the time the floors stay on the surface are all crucial to the success of the pitch post event.

The following approaches to encouraging a lower growth rate a couple of weeks before the event will help the grass endure the time spent under the plastic cover in shade and heat and will produce a firmer soil that will withstand traffic much better:

  • minimal watering 
  • reducing height cut (leaf area) 
  • stopping fertilising.

The length of time the grass will be covered, and the time of year (climatic conditions) will have a large effect on the approaches taken.

The use of forced air systems can extend the time the surface can be covered.

Match-day preparation

Preparing the pitch for a rugby game should begin the day before the fixture. Ideally in the following order:

  • Cut lengthways
  • Cut widthways
  • Line marking

Mowing

Linear patterns that align with the transverse line-markings are strongly recommended for rugby. Circular or arced patterns should be avoided.

At this stage where possible collect data to share with playing and coaching staff such as firmness. Communication with coaching staff is key. If you have areas of the pitch starting to show signs of wear, identify them with the support staff to ensure player warm-ups won’t happen in these areas.

The height of cut of the grass may be subject to union, regional, competition or league guidance.

Line marking

Always line mark last to avoid transfer of paint from the rollers on the mower.

Using a string to guide the marking process is the best approach. The centre of the paint roller should be in contact with the line, except for when doing near and between the posts where the line should follow through the middle of each post. The string should not touch the surface when being moved from one line to another to prevent paint transfer onto the surface. Strings should always be secured as straight and as tight as possible.

For pitch dimensions please refer to Law 1 of the Laws of the game. For non-international matches unions are free to allow dimensions outside of those within Law 1.

The ideal playing enclosure size available for an international match venue is 130m long by 80m wide, this will allow for a 100m long by 70m wide field with 10m in-goals and a 5m run-off around the entire field. Smaller playing enclosures will require the dimensions to be adjusted accordingly.

Lines should be of the same width. It is recommended that the lines are no wider than 12cm. Line width should be applicable to goal post width.

Marking should start with the widthways lines and continue in the order below using two separate strings. Using this method will assist in avoiding ‘ghosting lines’ where the paint transfers from the string to the pitch where it isn’t required.

  1. String one:
    1. Dead-ball line
    2. Goal line (string in-field of the posts)
    3. 22m line
    4. Halfway line
    5. 22m line
    6. Goal line
    7. Dead-ball line
    8. Leave string one to dry in place
  2. String two:
    1. 5m line (widthways)
    2. 10m line (widthways)
    3. 10m line (widthways)
    4. 5m line (widthways)
    5. Leave string two to dry in place.
  3. String one:
    1. Touchline
    2. Touchline
    3. Remove string one
  4. String two:
    1. 5m line (lengthways)
    2. 15m line (lengthways)
    3. 15m line (lengthways)
    4. 5m line (lengthways)

Pre-match watering

Rugby players generally wish to have the pitch dry as it minimises the risk of a ball slipping through their hands and causing a knock-on. For this reason, it is important to get the moisture levels right in the ground the night before a game. Pre-match watering should be done on the night before the fixture or hours before in the event of a night fixture. The moisture level at 40mm in depth should be 20-25 per cent come kick-off to protect the pitch and cause as little damage as possible.

This could make pitch preparation in mowing/marking difficult on the day of fixture as early in the morning the pitch will be moist. Therefore, where possible prepare the pitch the day before the game. 

Line marking can be done on the day of the game if needs must as it will not affect the playability of the surface.

Post-match clean-up

Overview

Repairs should be completed as soon as possible (at least within the first 24 hours) after a match.

Lifting any organic matter and loose debris after use and cleaning the whole surface with the use of a rotary vacuum mower (ideally a pedestrian rotary mower with a rear roller) will minimise the build-up of organic matter on the surface.

For the summer period a light rake attachment at the front of the pedestrian mower will help lift the organic matter and surface debris prior to vacuuming up by the rotary mowers. In winter months, if no floodlighting is available, brushes should be used.

Lines and other painted markings should be removed, where necessary, as soon as possible after the event has finished to minimise the risk of shadowing. This can be done, depending on the type of pain applied, using a brush and warm water or with solvents (not recommended from an environmental perspective).

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