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NATURAL TURF


ALL CHANGE FOR COMMUNITY RUGBY LEAGUE


DAVID CARPENTER OF TRIOPLUS LOOKS AT SOME OF THE FACILITY ISSUES AS COMMUNITY RUGBY LEAGUE PREPARES TO BECOME A SUMMER SPORT FROM 2012


traditional winter home and, from 2012, become a summer sport. The season will run from the end of March until Play-Off Finals in early November, and will also see the launch of a new enhanced and integrated league structure encompass- ing the whole sport. Super League remains at Tier One, the


M


pinnacle of the British game. Tier Two en- compasses the Championship. Tiers Three [National Conference Leagues] and Four [Regional Leagues] represent the com- munity game.


SUMMER SWITCH The community move to summer was not without contention but more than 70 per cent voted in favour and now the sport is well into preparation for what is being termed ‘the summer switch’ . Rugby Football League [RFL] director


of participation and strategic partner- ships, David Gent, is confident of the positive benefits the new arrangements


ARTIFICIAL TURF DEVELOPMENTS


The RFL is part of the Playing Surface Group established by the major national governing bodies of sport. The RFL has recently adopted policy whereby rugby league can be played on artificial surfaces as follows: ■ 65mm long pile with shock pad [IRB22] Training and competition, all levels of the game ■ 55-60mm long pile [FIFA One Star] Training and competition, all levels of the game ■ 40mm short pile [FIFA One Star] Recreation and training only, but not full contact version of game


Further ongoing research is being commissioned by the RFL 54 Read Sports Management online sportsmanagement.co.uk/digital


arch 2011 was a momentous month for rugby league at community level as the sport elected to depart from its


will bring: “The summer switch will bring better conditions for rugby league: Bbt- ter weather and pitches will mean less cancellations; firmer pitches suited to the modern, faster game; drier conditions for better handling and passing in a more expansive game; and lighter nights for training and development of skills. Clubs will also benefit from the integrat-


ed structure and will be able to arrange social and other events around guaran- teed match day opportunities, without the threat of cancellation,” he says. Although the community move is


driven by increasing participation and im- proved matchplay opportunities, facility improvement is high on the RFL agenda and the governing body has been very proactive in advance of the switch.


FACILITY STRATEGY In late 2010, the RFL commissioned Tri- oPlus to research and develop a new facilities strategy to address the summer switch and look at facility needs for the next 10-year period. More than 100 of the 437 community clubs were researched in detail, including


more than 60 club visits alongside de- tailed interviews with key individuals and research of potential development sites that included schools, parks and universi- ties. The RFL adopted the draft report in spring 2011 and has been very positive in implementing the recommendations. The strategy raised several significant


issues but the poor quality of natural turf playing surfaces was dominant, particu- larly in the traditional playing areas of Yorkshire, the North West and Cumbria. An irony is that rugby league played in


non-traditional areas is generally played on better surfaces, albeit largely on short- term hired facilities from rugby union clubs and other natural turf providers.


KEY FOCUS AREAS Security of tenure: A perennial issue with voluntary sports clubs that merits a feature in itself. Asset Transfer is also relevant here as most sports clubs are simply not positioned to understand and take advantage of the potential opportu- nities and understand the negatives. Improved club management: Under- standing and interpreting lifestyle trends;


The poor quality of some playing surfaces was raised in the facilities strategy


Issue 4 2011 © cybertrek 2011


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