Artificial Turf Rugby Pitches

With 30 years’ experience in sports construction, S&C Slatter are experts in the design, construction and maintenance of artificial turf rugby pitches.

Working exclusively with World Rugby Preferred Turf Producers FieldTurf, we've produced numerous 3G Rugby Pitches to World Rugby Regulation 22 performance standard.

Read on to learn more about our cutting-edge artificial turf rugby pitches, or contact us to discuss your project.

Artificial turf rugby pitch construction

We have built numerous synthetic turf rugby pitches for clients including Coventry Rugby Club, Royal Holloway University of London, and Hampton School.

We have an exclusive partnership with one of the world’s leading artificial sports turf manufacturers, FieldTurf who are World Rugby Preferred Turf Producers, trusted by top rugby teams such as Racing 92, Cardiff Blues, Stade Rochelais and US Oyonnax.

We are always keen to discuss new rugby construction projects and are happy to offer a free initial consultation. Please call or email for an informal chat about your new rugby pitch.

Artificial turf rugby pitch refurbishment

Our dedicated in-house maintenance division will ensure your pitch performs to optimum performance and safety levels, maximising its lifespan.

For pitches that have come to the end of their useful life, we can carry out refurbishment works, to utilise the existing infrastructure and replace the shock pad and artificial turf system.

How to build an artificial turf rugby pitch

There are nine key stages in the construction of an artificial rugby pitch.

1. Design and planning
This involves the design of the new rugby facility, obtaining planning permission, creating technical drawings and specifications ready for construction.

2.Environmental considerations
This can include management of water run-off and drainage, mitigating the impact of the new rugby pitch.

3. Health and safety
Creating a safe and thoroughly planned construction site that employs best practice and meets all legislative requirements.

4. Earthworks
Properly prepared foundations are crucial to the construction and performance of any rugby pitch.

5. Drainage
Appropriate drainage systems ensure that the artificial rugby pitch doesn’t become waterlogged, whatever the weather.

6. Sub-base and base
Carefully chosen materials support the chosen artificial turf system and free drainage of the pitch.

7. Shockpad
To comply with rugby safety and performance regulations, a shockpad will be employed under the artificial turf system.

8. Artificial turf system
This is the artificial grass itself, often referred to as the ‘carpet’ on a rugby pitch, combined with sand and performance infill to stabilise the fibres and support safety and performance.

9. Ancillary equipment
This includes additional requirements for an approved rugby pitch, such as appropriate fencing, floodlighting and goalposts – as well as project specific requirements such as team shelters, pavilions and car parks.

 

More detailed information can be found on our Artificial Sports Turf Pitches page.

What is an artificial turf rugby pitch?

Artificial turf rugby pitches are rugby pitches made without the use of natural turf. Commonly referred to as synthetic turf, artificial grass or astro turf, pitches are constructed using technologically advanced artificial fibres. These synthetic fibres resemble blades of grass, and are tufted in a similar way carpets are produced, which is why synthetic playing surfaces are often referred to as ‘carpet’.

Artificial rugby pitches use sand and performance infill to replicate the bounce and performance of natural grass rugby pitches while protecting the artificial grass fibres.

If you’ve heard the phrase 4G, 3G, synthetic or astro turf in relation to a rugby pitch, they all refer to the same: an artificial turf rugby pitch.

Take a look at some pitches in action with our rugby pitch construction case studies.

Hampton School

3G Rugby Pitch at Hampton School

What’s the difference between a 2G, 3G and 4G rugby pitch?


You may have heard artificial rugby pitches referred to as ‘2G’ or ‘3G’, perhaps even ‘4G’, ‘5G’ or beyond, so what’s the difference?

G stands for ‘Generation’, i.e. the generation of turf technology. 2G or second generation artificial pitches use a short pile height (length of the artificial grass fibres) combined with a sand infill, making them perfect for hockey pitches and multi-use games areas.

3G or third generation pitches utilise both a sand and performance infill, sand for stability and rubber or organic crumb for performance. They have a longer pile height, at 60mm for rugby. 3rd generation technology is approved for use by World Rugby’s Regulation 22, RFU and RFL.

There are new technologies emerging, which comprise of ‘non-filled’ artificial turf, i.e. without the need for rubber crumb infill – commonly referred to as 4G or 5G pitches. However, the lack of infill means that these pitches are yet to pass the safety and performance tests laid out by World Rugby.

So, the key difference between 2G, 3G and 4G artificial turf is that 3G rugby pitches are the only technology approved for use by World Rugby and the RFU.

Whilst 4G football pitch technology exists, it is still in the very early development stages and is yet to be accredited or adopted by any major sporting body. If you’re looking to build a pitch to World Rugby Regulation 22 performance standard or for use in the RFU or RFL, you’ll need to construct a 3G Artificial Turf Rugby Pitch – so beware any organisation claiming to construct approved 4G rugby pitches.

How much does it cost to build a 3G Pitch for Rugby?

The average cost for a brand new 3G artificial grass pitch (AGP) for rugby is around £750,000, but in reality, they can cost anywhere between £600,000 and £900,000 depending on a number of factors.

 

These factors include:

  • The overall size of the pitch
  • Scope of groundworks required
  • Chosen base, sub-base and shock pad
  • Chosen artificial turf system based on needs and standards (e.g. World Rugby Regulation 22 Performance Standard)
  • Environmental mitigation methods
  • Floodlighting, fencing and equipment requirements

 

Beyond the construction of the pitch itself, additional work is often required in the form of ancillary equipment (team shelters, pavilions, spectator areas) and civil engineering (access pathways, hard standings, roadways and car parks), so this may need to be factored into your costs.

The cost for a synthetic rugby pitch refurbishment is significantly lower, usually between £175,000 – £250,000 due to much of the infrastructure (foundations, floodlighting, civil engineering) often already being in place.

Please get in touch if you’d like an example of a detailed breakdown of project costs, or a quote on the cost of building a 3G rugby pitch based on your requirements.

 

 

How long does it take to build a 3G Rugby Pitch?

As with any construction project, the longest part of the process will often be taking the project through the design and planning stage.

Once planning is granted and the construction programme agreed, the typical length of time on-site to construct a new artificial rugby pitch is generally 12-14 weeks.

How long does a 3G Rugby Pitch last for?

An artificial turf rugby pitch generally has a lifespan of around 10 years, though this depends on how well the pitch has been constructed, the weekly hours of usage and how well the pitch has been maintained.

What funding is available for a 3G Rugby pitches?

Beyond funding the construction of an artificial pitch privately or through capital expenditure, there are a number of funding options available to football clubs and schools.

The RFU offer local club grants and loans for community level clubs (level 3 and below), with the RFL set to deliver £10m in small and large scale grant funding ahead of the 2021 World Cup.

If you’re not eligible for grant funding, or they aren’t suitable for your needs, private funding options are available, such as operating leases. You can find out more about operational leases on our funding page, or by checking out our recent work with the John Madejski Academy, who utilised an operating lease to fund their 3G artificial turf pitch, offsetting the cost with pitch hire.

What are the benefits of an artificial turf rugby pitch over a natural turf rugby pitch?

Though it’s designed to look like top quality natural grass, artificial turf provides greater durability than natural turf. This makes artificial turf ideal for use across the sporting, education and leisure sectors, to ensure safe and consistent play – unhampered by weather or limited playing hours.

The key benefits of artificial turf over natural turf are usability, safety and performance.

Usability

Natural turf pitches can handle between 2-6 hours of adult use per week, depending on the maintenance, management and drainage of the pitch.

By comparison, an artificial grass rugby pitches can weather between 60-80 hours a week, so if you’re looking to hire your facilities out, revenue opportunities are far higher with artificial turf.

It’s also worth noting that the estimated hourly usage for natural pitches can be impacted by the weather. Artificial turf pitches don’t require that elusive sunshine for maintenance or playability.

Safety

During a spell of heavy rainfall or freezing weather, natural turf pitches can become unfit for play – even for hardy rugby players – leading to matches being called off.

Designed to be free draining to prevent waterlogging, artificial grass rugby pitches are safe to use year-round, and often referred to as ‘all-weather pitches’.

It’s not only about the weather though. Laser-guided base and shock pad installation provides consistency of surface across the field, maximising safety wherever those tackles are taking place!

Performance

This same consistency of surface provides a reliable and long-lasting performance standard. Where lumps, bumps and holes can quickly occur in poorly maintained natural grass pitches, artificial grass rugby pitches are far hardier, retaining performance standards with hundreds of hours of use.

Coventry Rugby Club Artificial Turf Rugby Pitch

3G Pitch at Coventry Rugby Club

How do you maintain a 3G Rugby Surface?

3G Rugby Pitch Maintenance is crucial for ensuring optimum pitch performance and safety, while maximising the lifespan of the pitch.

Although artificial grass may not require cutting or aeration like natural turf pitches, regular maintenance is still required, based on factors like hours of use.

Maintenance can include regular brushing, decompaction, managing infill levels and moss/weed removal. Improper pitch maintenance can lead to issues with drainage and safety, as well as void any manufacturer warranty you may have.

Find out more about the types of maintenance 3G surfaces require or call our dedicated in-house maintenance division to discuss your needs.

 

 

Are artificial rugby pitches World Rugby/RFU/RFL Approved?

Only third generation (3G) artificial grass pitches are currently accepted for use by World Rugby, RFU and RFL.

Once your 3G Pitch is complete, it will require testing to earn World Rugby Regulation 22 or FIFA Quality certifications (the latter is required in some levels of RFL play).

We provide clients with a choice of independent third-party testing organisations who are able to carry out these tests and can incorporate this into the cost of the pitch.

The cost of testing is usually between £1950 – £2500.

Are 3G pitches allowed in the RFU Premiership and RFL Super League?

Synthetic turf rugby pitches are permitted in all levels of the Rugby Football Union (RFU) and Rugby Football League (RFL), providing that they meet the necessary testing standards.

Are synthetic rugby pitches bad for the environment?


Sometimes referred to as ‘plastic pitches’ it’s easy to see why concerns have been raised about the use of artificial turf.

A multitude of factors should be considered however when it comes to artificial pitches, including the physical health benefits. For example, in areas prone to poor weather, artificial pitches improve access to sport for those living there, improving health and wellbeing. The amount of usage artificial pitches can achieve also helps organisations to generate revenue through pitch hire, far more than can be achieved with the limitations of natural turf.

There are even positive impacts on the environment with artificial pitches, as they don’t require the large amounts of water that natural turf pitches take to maintain. US research showed that each full-sized artificial football field saves between 1.8 – 3.7 million litres of water each year compared to a natural turf field of the same size.

We’re consistently championing environmental innovation and mitigation methods for the artificial turf industry. We offer environmental mitigation methods to clients in line with the recommendations made by our partners, environmental charity Fidra, and Sport England.

If you have any questions about environmental mitigation methods that can be incorporated into your project, please get in touch.

Are 3G Rugby Pitches safe?


Gone are the days of ‘pitch burn’ from early artificial pitches. 3G Pitches provide a level playing surface, with long pile grass, infill and shock pads providing a safe playing surface as recognised by sporting bodies such as World Rugby, RFU and RFL, and utilised by topflight clubs such as Saracens, Newcastle Falcons and Worcester Warriors.

The RFU themselves responded to an article concerning the use of artificial turf, stating that “The RFU incorporated findings from World Rugby’s AGP risk assessment when considering its Rugby365 AGP programme. The risk assessment concluded that the overall risks of injury on artificial turf were not significantly different from those experienced on grass.”

As well as providing a consistent, reliable playing surface, the year-round element is key, with artificial turf pitches safe to play in weather that may lead to cancellations on natural turf pitches.

The RFU also commented on this, stating that “natural turf pitches in this country are currently at capacity, and overused pitches have a detrimental impact on the standard of rugby. Feedback from players has demonstrated that it also effects the level of enjoyment. With weather conditions becoming wetter and milder during the English winter, the number of cancelled matches and training sessions increases, reducing participation in rugby.”

3G Rugby Pitches constructed by S&C Slatter

S&C Slatter, along with our World Rugby Preferred Turf Producer partners FieldTurf are experienced in the construction of artificial turf rugby pitches to World Rugby Regulation 22 Performance Standard for use in both the RFU and RFL.

We have constructed pitches for universities, schools, professional and semi-professional clubs, including the very first artificial turf pitch in the RFU Championship at Coventry Rugby Club.

If you have any further questions on 3G rugby pitches, or would like to discuss your project, please get in touch.

For more information call 01635 34521 or email enquiries@slattersportsconstruction.com