New RFU Artificial Grass Pitch now complete in Durham
Booking site open to the public on August 19 at www.englandrugby.com/rugby365
Durham will benefit from its first RFU Rugby 365 floodlit artificial grass pitch (AGP) set to open from next season. The pitch is part of the RFU’s Rugby World Cup 2015 legacy of delivering over £50m investment over four years into the development of 100 AGPs across England.
The new facility will provide clubs across the Durham community the chance to benefit from year-round rugby through the durability of the floodlit surface which will enable additional training sessions and more flexibility in playing times. As a result, the pitch is expected to increase rugby participation across clubs and community groups, further growing the sport.
“Billingham RUFC were both honoured and excited to have been selected by the RFU to be part of their Rugby 365 artificial grass pitch programme”, said Mark Armstrong, Chairman of Billingham RUFC.
He adds “As an amateur not-for-profit club, our club development plan has always focused on the local community and developing rugby at all levels. Today we have every age group from U6s to colts as well as women, girls and vets teams and this, along with three senior sides and our continued involvement with local schools, has increased the pressure on our pitches. We have had an AGP in our development plan for the past 10 years, but the ‘dream’ was still a further 5-10 years away. We are delighted with the pitch and the opportunity to work with local clubs and schools to further develop rugby at grassroots in Teesside and we are equally proud to be able to work closely with the RFU to further increase participation in our sport.”
Three additional Rugby 365 Artificial Grass Pitches are also set for completion by next season in the West Midlands, Cambridgeshire and West Yorkshire.
The AGPs will be located at host clubs Keighley RUFC, Stourbridge RFC and Shelford Rugby Club and follow on from completion of the first three AGPs in Buckinghamshire, Somerset and Lancashire at the end of last year.
England Rugby’s investment in AGPs is part of their Rugby World Cup 2015 legacy of delivering over £50m over four years into the development of 100 AGPs across England.
In four months of on-season usage since the first three Rugby 365 pitches opened in January, they have hosted over 250 matches and more than 30 festivals of rugby with a combined footfall of 20,000 players enjoying the experience.
The pitches are a community facility for all clubs, players and teams from across the area to benefit from and enjoy. Testament to the growth of the women’s game, one third of all bookings have involved women and girls and a third of bookings are by non-senior teams, showing great appetite from youth players.
“We hope the local community will embrace the new AGP and take advantage of the additional opportunities it provides people to play year-round rugby,” said Steve Grainger, RFU Rugby Development Director.
He adds “Since launching our first sites in January we have seen local clubs, schools and teams from across the local areas all embracing the opportunity to play on the world-class facilities without weather, darkness or lack of pitch access limiting their ability to enjoy this great game.”
Alongside the Rugby 365 programme, the RFU is investing £10m over four years into partner organisations to part-fund 40 Rugby Share pitches on community sites. The University of Hull and University of Gloucestershire are due for completion by next season and will offer even greater access to rugby across their respective communities through multi-sport AGP playing surfaces.
For more information on Artificial Grass Pitches, and to book a pitch near you, go to www.englandrugby.com/rugby365
Updated 16:34 - 13 Aug 2017 by Mark Armstrong