Artificial pitch to be laid at Millennium Stadium in time for 2015 World Cup
16:01 GMT, 16 December 2012
Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium looks set for a new plastic pitch in time to host the 2015 Rugby World Cup.
The troublesome turf at Millennium Stadium is currently being replaced several times a year and the Welsh Rugby Union (WRU) think an artificial surface would solve the problem.
The steep stands in Cardiff block the sunlight and ground-staff have had well-publicised problems in trying to prepare suitable pitches.
The steep stands at the Millennium Stadium block the sunlight
Ground-staff have had problems preparing a suitable playing surface
WRU chief executive Roger Lewis told the Sunday Times an artificial pitch ‘is being given serious consideration. We are looking at the implications.’
A layer of stone, a thick black rubber shock pad and a covering of artificial green yarn 5cm deep with an in-fill of black rubber crumb make up the proposed new surface.
The International Rugby Board have approved the surface with the only sticking point for the WRU being whether it can handle the heavy equipment used for music shows, which provide a good source of revenue.
The Millennium Stadium hosts Welsh rugby internationals including Six Nations matches
Traditionalists are unhappy that an artificial pitch removes bad bounces and the need for teams to change or adapt their style for the conditions.
The Twickenham pitch was relaid during the close season with a proportion being synthetic turf.
Saracens will move to their new home Allianz Park in February and will become the first team to stage professional rugby on an artificial pitch.
SARACENS LEADING THE WAY
Saracen’s new 20million stadium Allianz Park will host the first professional rugby union match to be staged on a non-grass surface on February 16 when the home side entertain Exeter Chiefs.
The RFU invested in the new ground in Barnet to give England a place to train should their normal fields be frozen.
The length of the grass yarn has been set by the IRB, and also by FIFA for football purposes, at 50mm. 300 tons of sand is laid to stabilise the surface before 30mm of rubber crumb infill is added.
Installation costs are 530,000 including 100,000 for the first replacement of the grass yarn after 10 years.
An artificial surface is a lot cheaper to maintain than real grass as it just needs to be brushed twice a week to loosen the rubber crumb.