7 thoughts on “One year on: How has Saracens’ artificial pitch changed the game?

  1. As you know Cardiff Blues now also use the same pitch after being impressed with their experience that that game. As an aside Cardiff’s need was arguably greater – the Arms Park pitch is on a patch of ground from which the Taff was redirected about a century ago. Over the last 15 years the quality of the pitch seemed to have deteriorated – a total boggy mess down one side from about Oct to Apr every year. When installing the new pitch they found out that that the Mill Stadium had blocked the traditional (though never great) drainage route and that’s why it was worse.

    I love watching the team on the new pitch. Fast running games and scrums that complete. My son has played on it and says it can be a nightmare to go down on – unless it’s heavily sprayed with water you get a wicked carpet burn. I fear the injury risk has been discounted too much – I can think of a few guys who have gone down awkwardly, looked like planted studs to me, knee injuries have followed.

    I do like it but I really, really miss the smell of grass and mud on match night.

    1. Artificial pitches have been happening in American Football for a good long while now, and it seems the biggest issue is that the grip can sometimes be too good, which means a player plants his foot to cut and instead of slipping over because his momentum was too much for the attempted move, his foot stays in place and you get high ankle sprains and MCL/ACL damage at a much higher rate. At present American footballers still tend to be larger than Rugby players, but I doubt there’s that much in it anymore.

      It’s part of the ruthless maths of the sport, and I don’t know how I feel about the increased injury risk modern day players face.

  2. Think it has been great for Saracens. They have become a better team to watch since moving there, and they have been able to replicate their style of play at other grounds. It also is an excellent opportunity for the local community, local schools have played at Allianz Park and there always seems to be mini’s events in the morning before games. I would imagine a similar situation exists in Cardiff.

    Generally it allows for a more free-flowing running game, and although the risk of injury may be higher(?) I think in the future clubs will sway towards the artificial pitch, although maybe a hybrid pitch, which I believe Twickenham has, might offer the best of both worlds.

    1. Yes Jonny, the pitch is in use most weekends now, especially with all of the rain over Christmas. I’m looking forward to being down there myself on Apr 4th, Glantaf Comp year 1 team in the Cardiff Schools final.

  3. Probably too early to tell on the injuries front, Sarries may be reporting no noticeable change but there’s not a lot of data. Be in the interests of the game to combine all available data (I guess just Blues and Sarries) to get the most complete picture possible on the numbers, types and severity of injuries. If there really is no evidence the pitches are having an adverse affect on player welfare I would be in favour of seeing lots more of them!

    1. Matt, I think that there are plenty of other such pitches around the country so one would hope that there would be a decent amount of data, and I woudl certainly hope than someone is taking the lead in collating this data – because clearly it is important.

      Maidenhead RFC, Hartbury College, and Filton College in Bristol, all have these pitches, and whilst one may suggest that this is not the same standard – of course its not – they do play a lot of games on these pitches and they get a lot of use from various representative sides, both playing games and training. Pretty sure that England have trained at Maidenhead a few times.

      1. I had Googled it, there are a lot of sports studies, but I could only find one Rugby one from 2010 (the last one on this page) and hadn’t found anything current being done.

        http://plantscience.psu.edu/research/centers/ssrc/research/synthetic-turf-injuries

        The knee injury issue does look like it warrants further investigation, but I’m sure Sarries, Cardiff and Chiefs (who I think have a half sized artificial training pitch) have done their research. If there is no increased risk and it’s only upsides of a better game to watch and increased utilisation of a facility then I hope a lot more of them go in.

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