The RFU Council has approved a strategy to invest in Artificial Grass Pitches (AGP) which will see 100 artificial, floodlit pitches installed across the country over a four-year period. This is a significant capital investment into the community game.
The investment will fund two types of pitches in locations across the country to ensure maximum access and rugby participation.
Sixty of the pitches will be on rugby club sites to be used by the host club and other local clubs, enabling games to be played and training to be maximised.
The other 40 will be on community sites with a guaranteed number of hours for use by rugby.
Although there are close to 700 AGPs in England, rugby can be played on fewer than 10% of them due to the others not complying with the World Rugby specification for build and performance, which includes criteria such as ball bounce, head impact and carpet joint strength. Of the 10% that are usable, less than 10 are currently located on community rugby club sites.
The major driver for installing artificial pitches is to sustain and grow participation in the game against a backdrop of increasing pressure on natural turf pitches, changing player expectations, competition from other sports investing in artificial pitches and changing weather conditions.
The project will get underway with an initial six of the 60 rugby club pitches aiming to be operational in September 2016.