Artificial turf is now recognised as a suitable playing surface for rugby at even the highest competitive levels of the game. The RFU and FIFA have partnered on a framework for standardised performance testing and accreditation to ensure that artificial turf products used for rugby meet all requirements for play characteristics, safety, and durability.
The IRB have launched their One Turf program which promotes artificial turf as an ideal surface for boosting the global reach of rugby at all levels. Artificial turf rugby pitches deemed sufficient in quality to match the characteristics of natural grass are given IRB 'Rule 22' status.
Blakedown's state-of-the-art 3G artificial turf rugby and football pitch at the Phoenix Academy
Blakedown's 3G rugby pitch at the University of Birmingham
Gloucester Rugby Club's artificial turf training pitch at Hartpury College
Opening ceremony of the 3G pitch at Leeds Rhinos Rugby Academy
Blakedown's 3G training pitch used by Northampton Saints Rugby Club
Third Generation rubber-filled sports surface used for professional rugby
Rugby game being played on artificial turf
The early construction phase of a 3G rugby pitch
3G football and rugby pitch at Stretford Sports Village near Manchester
3G rugby and football training pitch at Fylde RUFC, built by Blakedown Sport & Play
Artificial turf rugby pitch certified with IRB Rule 22
Blakedown Sport & Play is one of the UK's largest synthetic rugby pitch construction companies. The technology of 3G rugby surfaces has increased rapidly in recent years and these surfaces are becoming very popular with clubs, universities and schools across the country.
Our services include everything from the groundwork, drainage system, stone base, shockpad installation and laying of the artificial turf to run-offs, reccesses, sports fencing, floodlighting, changing facilities, car parks and landscaping. Blakedown are very much the one-stop shop for rugby facility construction.
The University of Birmingham already had some of the best facilities of any redbrick institution in the UK, but the artificial rugby pitch it commissioned Blakedown Sport & Play to construct was the icing on the cake.
The 120m x 70m rubber-filled 3G pitch, with a Regupol shockpad guaranteeing maximum shock absorbency, was the only system at the time approved by the RFU and IRB as achieving a critical fall height of over 2m in both wet and dry conditions.
Unlike most other sports, rugby does not offer much versatility in terms of choice of synthetic surface. A 3G system - which is artificial turf supported by an infill of rubber crumb - is the only viable alternative to natural grass, and the only synthetic surface accepted by the IRB and the RFU.
There has been some progress in the development of 4G pitches - an artificial turf system that does not require an infill - but these surfaces are still inadequate to pass any of the testing criteria set by the governing bodies of either football or rugby.