Leinster have joined the ranks of other Premiership clubs and are now playing on a 3 G artificial surface at Donnybrook with the first games having just taken place. It would seem that non-grass pitches could well be the future of rugby in the UK but what commercial advantages do 3 G surfaces offer clubs and stadiums?
The advantages are numerous and include a change of playing style which at elite level sees players that much fitter, moving that much faster which as a consequence impacts the game. Because the new generation artificial turf allows for a faster style of play the game is more entertaining wooing in the crowds.
Gone are the days of drainage problems which have plagued clubs for decades, but there are other ramifications to consider too. This includes pitches being all weather resources which revolutionises the game not only from the player’s point of view but spectators too. Players are not caked in mud making team recognition that much easier.
Revenue benefits for both clubs and stadiums are impressive with a reduction in cancellations due to adverse conditions being pretty significant whether it be on match days or those all-important training sessions.
However, with such a tremendous choice of products out there, the IRB is proactive when it comes to assisting both clubs and unions make the right choice and they do so through initiatives like the Preferred Turf Producers (PTP). On top of this the IRB has developed guidelines (Regulation 22) with player welfare being at the core of new developments and innovations the likes of artificial turf.
With this said, it has been a long time coming due to the fact that previous generation artificial surfaces proved unsuitable for the Game, more often used in training grounds. It goes without saying that for many a part of the Game’s appeal is the quagmire that’s typically associated with rugby, but times are changing as are demographics with Leinster just being one of the clubs to take the plunge.