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Rugby Surfaces

What is artificial turf?

Only Regulation 22 compliant artificial turf fields can be use for rugby training or matches

If you don't read any further, these are the things that you should know

  • Only Regulation 22 compliant artificial turf fields can be use for rugby training or matches
  • Any field from any supplier that meets the criteria can be considered compliant
  • Fields must be tested on installation and then every two years by an Accredited Test Institute to maintain compliance

An artificial turf system comprises

  • Performance infill
  • Stabilising infill
  • Fibres
  • Carpet backing: The carpet backing is the layer that the carpet fibres are stitched into.
  • A shock absorbing layer (optional): This is the Shock Pad that sits underneath the backing of the turf. This is an optional layer, however with current technologies it is unlikely that you will achieve the correct test results without one.
  • Sub-base: This is the foundation which the turf is built upon.

Why is artificial turf used in rugby and why do World Rugby regulate it?

Artificial turf, and how it differs to natural turf, has several factors that make it appealing for rugby:

Playing time

  • At least 30 hours playing time per week.
  • Perfect for intense usage
  • Great fit for multi-sport facilities


  • Lower running costs
  • Additional revenue generator due to longer playing hours.


  • Less water required.
  • Recyclable


  • Better suited to extreme weather conditions
  • Consistent surface throughout the playing season


World Rugby regulate the use of artificial turf for both training and matches. The requirements are set out in Regulation 22 and the World Rugby Turf Performance Specification.

World Rugby recognised that there is a huge variation in the quality and performance of artificial turf surfaces and wanted to work to bring consistency and quality to surfaces being used for rugby. This led to the development of Regulation 22 in 2003 to regulate the use of artificial turf surfaces. since then, it has continued to be developed and improved to reflect the changes to products, manufacturing processes, environmental factors, and the needs of the game.

Player Welfare is World Rugby's number one priority, so Regulation 22 puts player interaction performance and the ability of a surface to maintain that performance at the core of the development of the regulation. To ensure that these performance requirements are met, World Rugby require all fields to be retested at least every two years.

World Rugby do not regulate the use of natural turf in the same way as their performance is largely climate and condition dependent, so consistency is not easily achieved.