WORCESTER Warriors will become the first Aviva Premiership club to roll out the latest generation of artificial grass pitch ahead of the 2016/17 season.
While fellow top-flight sides Saracens and Newcastle Falcons have made the switch to artificial surfaces in recent seasons, Warriors will make the move to play on Italian specialists, Limonta Sport’s state-of-the-art all-weather surface.
The new turf, which the club will begin to install on Friday, June 10 and hope to complete by mid-August, will meet all World Rugby synthetic pitch guidelines and will be the first in the UK to feature an organic infill, rather than the more widely used rubber crumb made from desiccated car tyres.
Once completed, the pitch will permit greater usage for the club’s elite, academy and community rugby programmes as well as providing commercial opportunities for events and reducing maintenance costs.
The high-quality surface will give the impression of being 100 per cent natural as players get muddy rather than suffering friction burns, but more crucially it will provide better foot stability, enhancing safety for players.
Warriors Chief Executive Jim O’Toole said: “Our stadium pitch is the single most under-utilised asset in the club, currently being used for fewer than 100 hours per season.
“The structure of our existing playing surface means we have to allocate eight to ten weeks per summer break to refurbish it, thus removing the possibility of summertime playing usage or commercial activity.
“This exciting development not only allows us to play more rugby at all levels on our biggest physical asset, but also allows us to establish new commercial revenue streams such as concerts, festivals and other non-rugby events.
“It’s a significant investment on behalf of the ownership and is another step in our journey to make the business profitable in the long term.”