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.
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.
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.
Get in touch to discuss your rugby pitch refurbishment or conversion from natural to 3G grass.
1. Design and planning
This involves the design of the new rugby facility, obtaining planning permission, creating technical drawings and specifications ready for construction.
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.
Properly prepared foundations are crucial to the construction and performance of any rugby pitch.
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.
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.
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 for increased durability, usage and performance.
If you’ve heard the phrase 4G, 3G, synthetic or astro turf in relation to a rugby pitch, they all refer to the same turf type: an artificial turf rugby pitch. Alternative options are hybrid turf pitches and natural grass pitches.
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 artificial turf 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.
According to the latest figures from Sport England’s Facility Costs guide, the average cost for a brand new, full-sized, 3G artificial grass pitch (AGP) for Rugby League is £1,250,000 and £1,335,000 for Rugby Union – in both cases these figures include pitch fencing and floodlighting. In reality, 3G rugby pitches can cost anywhere between £600,000 and £1.5m depending on a number of factors.
These factors include:
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.
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.
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.
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), and the RFL has their own £10m capital grants programme running to coincide with the postponed RLWC2021.
If you’re not eligible for grant funding, or they aren’t suitable for your needs, finance options are available, such as operating leases, hire purchase agreements and finance leases. You can find out more about operational leases on our finance and funding page, or by checking out an example of our work with the John Madejski Academy, who utilised an operating lease to fund their 3G artificial turf pitch, offsetting the cost with pitch hire.
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 for a rugby field are usability, safety and performance.
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.
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!
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 fields are far hardier, retaining performance standards with hundreds of hours of use.
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, weather and pitch location.
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.
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.
Yes. Synthetic turf rugby pitches are permitted in all levels of the Rugby Football Union (RFU), providing that they meet the necessary testing standards.
Yes. Synthetic turf rugby pitches are permitted in all levels of the Rugby Football League (RFL), providing that they meet the necessary testing standards.
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, which is important for community access to sport and facility sustainability.
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 clients end-of-life pitch recycling, carbon offsetting and environmental mitigation methods to clients in line with the recommendations made by environmental charity Fidra, and Sport England.
We even offer, through our exclusive partners FieldTurf, the option to produce your artificial turf with 100% recycled materials, through their SURETEC programme.
If you have any questions about the environmental sustainability options that can be incorporated into your project, please get in touch.
Gone are the days of ‘pitch burn’ from early artificial rugby pitches. 3G Pitches provide a level playing surface, with long pile grass, infill and shock pads ensuring safety for players, 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 otherwise lead to cancellations on natural turf pitches due to safety concerns.
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.”
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.