Big freeze: Premiership has it covered

Wed, 26 Dec 2012 08:23
Large the rec water Large frozen pitch2 Large ball on snow Large frozen pitch Large flooded pitch

The Premiership is one code that need not worry about the big freeze, thanks to the adoption of a pitch-covering system.

While other sports sweat over how much havoc the British weather may wreak on prospective winter schedules, the Premiership need not worry thanks to the adoption of a pitch-covering system.

With the mercury hitting single figures, pitches across the country are subject to freezing but a partnership between Premiership Rugby and Sports and Stadia Services, an investment worth £200,000, has nullified that threat.

All 12 clubs now employ the MacLeod cover - a huge pitch cover with a central inflatable tube which allows warm air to be blown underneath to protect a pitch from freezing or, in some circumstances, defrost the ground.

And evidence of its effectiveness can be found during February of last year when low temperatures threatened the LV= Cup schedule - however matches at Sale Sharks, Harlequins, Bath, Exeter Chiefs, Gloucester and London Wasps all went ahead.

Nigel Felton, owner of Sports and Stadia Services, said: "During that weekend without our covers those games would not have gone ahead.

"Originally we provided just three systems but last season they decided they wanted five and so last winter was the first time we had those in place and to good effect.

"When we had 12 clubs, some were reluctant but now even those that have under-soil heating have bought into the fact that the system is very helpful.

"Everybody benefits and there is no room for games getting cancelled especially when you consider the hectic schedule and international fixtures."

Clubs are informed on whether the system will be required by Felton, who will make a recommendation based on a seven-day weather forecast.

And despite a milder than usual December period, Felton insisted the decision to use the equipment was a no-brainer considering the hassle generated by postponements.

"I will send forecasts out to the clubs and recommend whether they need to put the system in place and how long in advance," added Felton.

"Typically if bad weather is predicted the system will be in place the Tuesday before a Saturday game.

"We are more interested in preventing the pitch from freezing rather than defrosting it as that is no good for the surface.

"I think it's a no-brainer for the clubs. If the cost is spread across the league, by saving just one game a year it will be beneficial to all involved.

"In the time we have been working with Premiership Rugby there has not bee a season where we haven't saved a number of games."

Premiership Rugby, the umbrella organisation of the Aviva Premiership clubs has made a considerable financial commitment to the pitch protection scheme and is committed to ensuring all matches go ahead.

"Without the SSS systems it is highly likely that games would be called off and we would face the prospect of midweek rugby," said Phil Winstanley the Rugby Director at Premiership Rugby.

"By ensuring that our fixtures have the best possible chance of going ahead we maintain the integrity within our competitions and we protect player welfare by minimising the risk of rearranged midweek matches.

"We can't control the elements and won't always win the battle when extreme conditions on the roadways and concourses around our grounds force games to be postponed , but we can do everything in our power to make sure that pitches are playable and that rugby union in England suffers as little disruption as possible."

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FIXTURE GMT VENUE
Fri, 28 April 2017
Highlanders v Stormers 07h35 Dunedin
Cardiff Blues v Zebre 18h05 Cardiff
Edinburgh v Dragons 18h35 Myreside
Leinster v Glasgow Warriors 18h35 RDS Arena
Newcastle Falcons v Worcester Warriors 19h00 Kingston Park
Sat, 29 April 2017
Chiefs v Sunwolves 07h35 Hamilton
Reds v Waratahs 09h45 Suncorp Stadium
Force v Lions 11h55 Perth
Ospreys v Ulster 14h00 Liberty Stadium
Bath v Gloucester 14h00 Recreation Ground
Exeter Chiefs v Northampton Saints 14h00 Sandy Park
Saracens v Bristol 14h00 Allianz Park
Harlequins v Wasps 14h00 Twickenham Stoop
Leicester Tigers v Sale Sharks 14h00 Welford Road
Cheetahs v Crusaders 15h15 Bloemfontein
Treviso v Munster 17h05 Stadio Monigo
Kings v Rebels 17h30 Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium
Connacht v Scarlets 18h35 Sportsground
Jaguares v Sharks 19h40 Buenos Aires
Sun, 30 April 2017
Brumbies v Blues 06h05 Canberra
RESULT SCORE
Sun, 23 April 2017
Clermont Auvergne v Leinster 27 | 22
Sat, 22 April 2017
Sharks v Rebels 9 | 9
Bulls v Cheetahs 20 | 14
Munster v Saracens 10 | 26
Force v Chiefs 7 | 16
Crusaders v Stormers 57 | 24
Highlanders v Sunwolves 40 | 15
Fri, 21 April 2017
Lions v Jaguares 24 | 21
Waratahs v Kings 24 | 26
Hurricanes v Brumbies 56 | 21
Mon, 17 April 2017
UP-Tuks v Maties 28 | 21
Sun, 16 April 2017
Bristol v Wasps 21 | 36
Northampton Saints v Saracens 25 | 27
Sat, 15 April 2017
Connacht v Leinster 24 | 37
Treviso v Edinburgh 21 | 6
PREMIERSHIP
MORE LOGS
Team P W D L Pts
Wasps 20 16 1 3 79
Exeter Chiefs 20 13 3 4 74
Saracens 20 15 1 4 72
Leicester Tigers 20 12 0 8 57
Bath 20 11 0 9 53
Northampton Saints 20 9 0 11 48
Harlequins 20 10 0 10 47
Gloucester 20 7 2 11 46
Newcastle Falcons 20 8 0 12 40
Sale Sharks 20 6 1 13 36
Worcester Warriors 20 5 2 13 31
Bristol 20 3 0 17 19