Imagine Rugby Blogs

Saracens look into ground move

Premiership club look at artificial surface

Posted Nov 11, 2010 by Jeff Dawson

Saracens

Big news this week is Saracen’s proposed move to the Copthall Stadium in Barnet – a move that would see the Aviva Premiership side play their home games on artificial turf from next season.
The north London club have been in discussions with Barnet Borough Council about a move to the athletics stadium, a venue Barnet FC had also planned on moving to. But is this a good move for rugby?
Artificial pitches are often criticised by professional footballers purely because playing on grass makes the game easier to predict, easier to play and better for the body.
So how can this be a good move for a rugby team? Well according to Saracens chairman Nigel Wray, the club see this as “a unique way to create a fabulous stadium.” He also added: Artificial turf may well be the future of rugby. It has been approved by the IRB and the RFU, and all the latest evidence suggests it will enable a faster, safer and more entertaining game. Artificial turf technology has improved out of all recognition and concerns about burns and injuries are very much in the past.”
I agree that the technology has improved but I can’t agree with his last statement. Although burns have been reduced, I know only too well that injuries are very much in evidence on this surface.
I have played football on the best commercialised artificial surface and I have seen horrendous injuries because of the lack of give in the pitch. I have noticed that it is easier to roll ankles and do ligament damage on this surface than on grass and I feel that playing rugby on it may not be the best practice.
Rugby relies on the players being able to trust the ground when they tackle, fall or dive and I think you will see less of this if the game goes down this route.
On the plus side, having an artificial surface means that games can be played all year round and therefore fixtures will be fulfilled and won’t fall foul to the weather.
Only time will tell if this is a good move, but I for one, would not relish the change of playing rugby on a hard surface like the artificial turf provides.

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