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Millennium StadiumWales are set to play on a plastic pitch at the Millennium Stadium in a ground-breaking move being proposed by the Welsh Rugby Union.

Roger Lewis, the WRU’s go-ahead chief executive, has revealed behind closed doors talks have taken place about implementing the artificial surface at the home of Welsh sport.

walesonline

The revolutionary move would bring an end to the perennial problems which have dogged the grass pitch since the first match was played at the Millennium back in 1999.

Even as recently as Wales’ autumn campaign, Warren Gatland’s stars continually lost their footing on the sometimes treacherous surface.

Three years ago the Welsh football team quit playing at the Millennium Stadium after then manager John Toshack and his captain Craig Bellamy complained bitterly about the state of the surface.

The Welsh footballers argued the pitch was not suitable for international soccer matches.

The WRU hope to have the new plastic surface in place at their plush 74,000-seater stadia in time for the 2015 World Cup. Six games in the showpiece tournament will be staged in Cardiff.

But it could be ready a year earlier, with Wales possibly playing their home games in the 2014 Six Nations tournament on artificial grass.

It would be the first time an international rugby match has been staged on such a surface.

The WRU have sought approval for their plans from International Rugby Board power-brokers and permission is said to have been granted.

The move would anger rugby traditionalists, but the IRB believe the likelihood of injuries on an artificial surface would be no greater than on grass.

Their initial findings also indicate the problems of collapsed scrums would be decreased, because players would have a sounder footing.

The Millennium Stadium turf is currently replaced several times a year because or problems growing the grass, sunlight unable to get in because of the steep stands cited as one of the reasons.

The WRU believe using a synthetic surface could be a more practical alternative and are actively exploring the possibility.

“An artificial grass pitch is being given genuine consideration at this stage,” confirmed Lewis.

“We are looking at the implications.

The IRB have approved a surface made up of a layer of stone, a thick black rubber shock pad and a covering of artificial green yarn 5cm deep, with an in-fill of black rubber crumb.

Maidenhead, who play in National Three South West of the English system, recently became the first British rugby club to play league games on such an artificial surface.

Saracens will become the first side to stage a professional game on grass when they meet the Blues in an LV Cup game next month.

But international rugby is a whole new ball game, with the WRU adamant the move will finally put an end their ongoing pitch woes.

Ironically, the only concern the WRU have is whether the plastic pitch will be able to take hosting music shows, which regularly occur at the Stadium.

“They use some very big trucks for their equipment,” said Lewis.

“We would need to be satisfied that the new surface can take it.”

4 Responses to Millennium Stadium to get synthetic pitch for 2015?

  • 1

    Interesting… how will this hold up to repeated scrumming on certain spots though?

  • 2

    Jeez not so sure about this. What about grass burns? Or rather synthetic grass burns? Think there could be a problem.

  • 3

    The soccer guys still won’t play there. FIFA don’t allow it.

    Interesting though.

  • 4

    @ Puma:
    That should be “carpet burns”.

    Will the surface allow players to slide over for tries? Or into touch? What will this pitch do for the bounce of the ball? Will the pitch make the bounce more erratic and lively, or will the ball just die as it lands?


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